UNCG holds off Elon for key SoCon road win
ELON, NC – Ricky Hickman made two free throws with 1.1 seconds to play to put the game out of reach as UNCG won for just the second time ever at Elon, 72-68, in Southern Conference men’s basketball action Monday night.
Hickman, who didn’t start the game after a tough shooting day on Saturday, finished with 23 points, 18 of those in the second half. The senior from Winston-Salem, NC had come off the bench on four previous occasions this season when he has struggled, averaging 17.0 ppg in those four outings.
“I was just trying to get into the flow once I got into the game,” said Hickman. “I wanted to get some good looks at the basket, knock down some open shots. I felt like that was all I had to do to get going.”
Kyle Hines had 24 points and nine rebounds to lead UNCG (7-8, 4-2 SoCon). Hines went over 1,300 points for his career in the process and extended his double figure scoring streak to 36 consecutive games. It was the 18th time during his school record streak that he has gone for 20 or more points in a game.
UNCG’s only other win in 11 trips to the Koury Center came on November 27, 2001. It was also UNCG’s third conference road win already this season. UNCG has played half of its conference road games and it is only January 8.
“It was a great game and a great win for our guys,” said UNCG coach Mike Dement. “We’ve had some real battles with these guys lately and they’ve had our number. We hung in there down the stretch.”
A five-point possession turned the tide as UNCG took advantage of a technical foul on Elon’s Brett James. James blocked two shots in a sequence, but then made the mistake of screaming about it in the face of Kyle Hines and drawing the technical. Mikko Koivisto sank both free throws and Hickman, who was 0-for-9 from behind the arc in Saturday’s loss to Western Carolina, knocked down a three-pointer from the right corner to push the Spartan lead back to eight with 2:18 to play after Elon had nearly rallied all the way back from an 11-point deficit.
UNCG had to hold on from there, though, as Levon Jordan had 13 points in the final 51 seconds to nearly single-handedly pull Elon (3-11, 1-3 SoCon) back into it. He finished with a team-high 24 points.
As has been the norm when these two teams get together, the game was tight right from the outset. Eight of the last nine meetings entering Monday had been decided by single-digits and this game was no exception.
Neither team led by more than four for the first 13 minutes, but UNCG’s offense began to sputter with just one field goal in a six-minute span. The Phoenix went on an 8-2 run during that drought, capped off by Jordan’s 18-footer from the left wing in transition to give Elon a 26-20 lead with 6:13 left in the half and force a UNCG timeout.
But Elon had just one field goal during the remainder of the half and UNCG ran off eight straight points. The Spartans used that momentum to take a 31-28 lead into the intermission.
After Elon scored the first four points of the second half to regain a brief lead, the Spartans ran off eight of the next 10 points to open up their biggest lead of the night to that point, 39-34, four minutes into the second half.
Elon used a 6-0 run to take a 40-39 lead, but the Spartans responded once again. UNCG went on a 17-3 run, stifling the Phoenix on the defensive end primarily with their 2-3 match-up zone. The run created the first double-digit lead of the game for either team, 54-43.
Elon fought back to within three, going on a 12-4 run to trim UNCG’s lead to 58-55 with 3:51 to play. The run was capped off by a thunderous dunk by Scott Grable.
But UNCG took advantage of the technical foul on James and then had to knock down its free throws and hang on. The Spartans hit 4-of-6 before Jordan knocked down a three-pointer with 20 seconds to go to pull Elon within 68-65.
Dwayne Johnson missed his first free throw with 18.4 seconds left, but made the second to make it a four-point game. Jordan then had a three -point attempt go halfway down and come out. Hines grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made one of two to make it a five-point game, but Jordan nailed a three-pointer falling down to get it back to two.
Hickman, however, knocked down two at the line to put the game away and gave the Spartans their fourth win in conference play this season, equaling last year’s total.
UNCG returns to action Wednesday night when it faces Virginia Tech at the Greensboro Coliseum for a 7 pm tip. A portion of the ticket sales from that game will be donated by the Greensboro Tournament Committee to the Eastern Guilford High School relief effort. The game will televised by Fox SportsNet.
SIDELINES: Hines moved into fourth place on the UNCG career rebound list, passing James Maye (1998-2003)... Hines came into Monday’s game averaging 16.8 ppg and 9.8 rpg in five career games against Elon, including three double-doubles... Hickman moved into seventh place on the UNCG career scoring list on Monday night... Hickman is now averaging 20.3 ppg in UNCG’s seven wins and half of that – 10.1 ppg in UNCG’s eight losses this season.
UNC GREENSBORO 72, ELON 68
UNC GREENSBORO (7-8, 4-2 SoCon)
HINES, Kyle 9-16 6-9 24; HICKMAN, Ricky 7-17 5-6 23; JOHNSON, Dwayne 1-3 3-4 6; STYWALL, Ben 1-3 3-4 6; TONEY, Kendall 2-6 0-0 5; KOIVISTO, Mikko 0-3 3-4 3; OLEKSIAK, Kevin 1-5 1-2 3; BROWN, Pete 1-1 0-0 2; TOOMS, Bart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-54 21-29 72.
ELON (3-11, 1-3 SoCon)
JORDAN, LeVonn 8-18 5-5 24; ATOYEBI, Ola 6-7 0-0 12; JAMES, Brett 4-13 2-2 11; CARTER, Devan 4-7 0-0 9; CHALKO, Chris 3-6 0-0 8; GRABLE, Scott 2-3 0-0 4; CONSTANTINE, Adam 0-0 0-0 0; OGOLO, Jon 0-0 0-0 0; WATERS, Brian 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 27-57 7-7 68.
Halftime: UNCG 31-28. 3-point goals--UNC Greensboro 7-24 (HICKMAN, Ricky 4-11; TONEY, Kendall 1-5; JOHNSON, Dwayne 1-2; STYWALL, Ben 1-1; OLEKSIAK, Kevin 0-2; KOIVISTO, Mikko 0-3), Elon 7-15 (JORDAN, LeVonn 3-4; CHALKO, Chris 2-3; CARTER, Devan 1-2; JAMES, Brett 1-5; WATERS, Brian 0-1). Fouled out--UNC Greensboro-None, Elon-None. Rebounds--UNC Greensboro 32 (HINES, Kyle 9), Elon 37 (JORDAN, LeVonn 8). Assists--UNC Greensboro 15 (OLEKSIAK, Kevin 4), Elon 13 (WATERS, Brian 5). Total fouls--UNC Greensboro 9, Elon 20. Technical fouls—UNC Greensboro-None, Elon-JAMES, Brett. A-1051
- UNCG -