Hickman tops 1,500 career points, leads UNCG past UNCW on Senior Night, 77-66
GREENSBORO, NC – Ricky Hickman had a game-high 23 points, including the 1,500th of his career, as UNC Greensboro defeated UNC Wilmington, 73-66, in a BracketBusters series match-up at Fleming Gym on Saturday night.
Hickman, a senior from Winston-Salem, NC, celebrated Senior Night by recording the 71st double-figure scoring game of his career. It was his 27th career game of 20 or more points and the fourth straight game he has scored 19 or more. For the third consecutive game, Hickman, who has had a roller coaster season shooting the basketball, got it done from the foul line. He was 11-for-14 from the line on Saturday night, making him 37-for-46 at the charity stripe in the last three contests.
The Spartans (15-12) won their 15th game of the season and assured themselves of at least a .500 season. UNCG finished the season 10-3 at Fleming Gym.
Junior forward Kyle Hines barely kept his streak of consecutive games with 10 or more points alive, and a good number of the 1,286 fans at Fleming Gym knew it when he dunked with just 10 seconds left to extend it to 47 games. Hines scored 10 points, the first time in the streak that he has had to go down to the wire to extend it.
“Oleksiak was teasing me in the locker room afterwards,” said Hines. “I didn’t completely realize it, I guess. It wouldn’t have mattered because I just wanted us to win the game. But Kevin came up to me afterwards and told me that I should thank him because he threw the long pass to me.”
Freshman forward Mikko Koivisto also chipped in with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Koivisto had a couple of big baskets in the second half when UNCW was cutting into UNCG’s lead. It was the fifth time in the last six games that the native of Vantaa, Finland, has scored in double figures.
Jeff Horowitz led UNCW (6-20) with 14 points in just 12 minutes of action off the bench, including 4-of-5 from three-point range. Vladimir Kuljanin chipped in 13 points and Todd Henley added 11 points for the Seahawks. Montez Downey also had 10 points.
“We didn’t win on senior night last year and I thought that was really important for our guys this season,” said UNCG coach Mike Dement. “It has been a long week. I know I am tired. We’ve played four games in eight days and, particularly these last three, I think we’ve played well and accomplished a lot. We’ll get a couple days off and get some rest and get ready for next weekend.”
The next weekend that Dement referred to is a road swing that UNCG will take to Appalachian State and Chattanooga next weekend. The Spartans trail Appalachian State by a 1-1/2 games in the SoCon’s North Division. The Mountaineers, coming off a big win over Wichita State in a BracketBusters game on Saturday, have to face rival Western Carolina in Cullowhee on Monday before UNCG comes to town on Thursday. Appalachian State closes out the regular season on Saturday at Elon, while UNCG goes to Chattanooga.
Dement started his five graduating players for Senior Night, the first time in recent memory that two walk-ons were in the starting lineup. The combination of Greg Vlazny, Donald Moore, Bart Tooms, Matt Akinosho and Ricky Hickman started the game and held their own through the first substitutions. With the subs coming at the first media timeout at the 13:52 mark, UNCG held a 12-6 lead. UNCW’s last lead of the night came in the game’s first four minutes at 6-4.
From there, UNCG extended the lead to 20-8 after a Pete Brown thunder dunk, causing the Seahawks to call their second timeout with 9:58 still left in the opening half. And in that 12-point lead was the fact that Kyle Hines hadn’t scored yet.
The Spartans led by as many as 17 in the first half but settled for a 41-31 lead at the break thanks to a 8-1 UNCW run over the final 2:31 of the half.
The Spartans managed just one field goal in the first five minutes of the second half as the Seahawks closed to within six, 44-38. Consecutive field goals by Kendall Toney, one a three-pointer from the top of the key and the other a pull-up 14-footer, gave the Spartans an 11-point lead once again. UNCW responded, though, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Jeff Horowitz to cut it back to five with 13:07 to play.
The Spartans flirted with a double-digit lead a couple times after that, but couldn’t maintain it. Horowitz banked a three-pointer from the top of the key to close the Seahawks back to within five. After a Spartan miss, freshman Montez Downey hit a pull-up jumper in the lane to cut it to 59-56 with 7:09 to play.
The lead was still three with three minutes to play when Hickman hit a jumper from the right side to give UNCG a 65-60 lead. Vladimir Kuljanian hit one of two from the line in UNCW’s next possession to get back to within four.
After Hickman was called for a travel on a move to the basket, UNCW called a timeout in its halfcourt set with 1:59 to play. But the Seahawks had to settle for a 3-point miss by Hundley as the shot clock expired.
UNCG went to work on the clock, but lost the ball with 1:10 to play and UNCW called timeout when it grabbed the loose ball in the pile. Darryl Felder drove the lane, but had his shot blocked by Hines and Hendley fell down with the rebound for a traveling violation.
UNCW had to foul and Hickman stepped to the line, hitting them both for his 1,500 and 1,501st career points and putting the game away. The only thing that was left in doubt was Hines streak, which began on Dec. 19, 2005. That question was answered when Oleksiak grabbed took a quick in-bounds and found his big man streaking to the bucket for a dunk.
It was the first meeting between the two schools since November 1991 when the Spartans earned their first win as a Division I program, defeating the Seahawks, 68-66, at Fleming Gym. As part of the BracketBusters agreement, UNCG will return the trip to Wilmington to face the Seahawks at Trask Coliseum.
SIDELINES: With UNCG’s five graduating players starting for “Senior Night”, the Spartans used their 12th different starting combination this season... It took Kyle Hines until the 6:25 mark of the first half to get into the scoring column on Saturday night. His field goal gave UNCG a 30-17 lead... The Spartans are now 5-0 this season when leading by 10 or more at the half... Several of the UNCG players took a lap around the court to thank their fans one last time after the win on Saturday. Ricky Hickman went through a front row of fans for hugs and high fives, while Kyle Hines climbed part way up the scorer’s table to thank the student section... UNCG is now 22-6 in Mike Dement’s return to Greensboro when it holds opponents under 70 points.
UNCG 73, UNC WILMINGTON 66
UNC WILMINGTON (6-20)
Horowitz, Jeff 5-6 0-0 14; Kuljanin, Vladimir 5-9 3-5 13; Hendley, Todd 3-7 4-4 11; Downey, Montez 3-11 2-2 10; Grkovic, Dejan 3-5 0-0 6; Sheets, Josh 1-2 3-4 5; Soyebo, Temi 0-2 5-6 5; Felder, Darryl 0-4 2-2 2; Jeralds, Darion 0-1 0-0 0; Fountain, Daniel 0-6 0-0 0. Totals 20-53 19-23 66.
HICKMAN, Ricky 5-15 11-14 23; KOIVISTO, Mikko 3-7 2-2 11; HINES, Kyle 4-11 2-6 10; TOOMS, Bart 3-6 1-2 7; TONEY, Kendall 2-4 0-0 5; OLEKSIAK, Kevin 1-3 2-4 4; VLAZNY, Greg 1-3 1-2 4; AKINOSHO, Matt 1-2 1-1 3; JOHNSON, Dwayne 1-2 0-0 3; BROWN, Pete 1-2 0-0 2; STYWALL, Ben 0-0 1-2 1; MOORE, Donald 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-55 21-33 73.
Halftime: UNCG 41-31. 3-point goals--UNC Wilmington 7-22 (Horowitz, Jeff 4-5; Downey, Montez 2-8; Hendley, Todd 1-2; Sheets, Josh 0-1; Soyebo, Temi 0-1; Fountain, Daniel 0-5), UNCG 8-24 (KOIVISTO, Mikko 3-7; HICKMAN, Ricky 2-7; JOHNSON, Dwayne 1-2; TONEY, Kendall 1-2; VLAZNY, Greg 1-3; TOOMS, Bart 0-2; HINES, Kyle 0-1). Fouled out--UNC Wilmington-Hendley, Todd, UNCG-STYWALL, Ben. Rebounds--UNC Wilmington 42 (Kuljanin, Vladimir 10), UNCG 34 (HICKMAN, Ricky 6; HINES, Kyle 6). Assists--UNC Wilmington 12 (Soyebo, Temi 6), UNCG 15 (HICKMAN, Ricky 4). Total fouls--UNC Wilmington 24, UNCG 21. Technical fouls--UNC Wilmington-None, UNCG-None. A-1286
- UNCG -