GREENSBORO, N.C. - Senior Mikko Koivisto scored a season-high 17 points and fellow classmate Ben Stywall notched 14 points and pulled nine rebounds to help UNC Greensboro survive a second-half run and defeat Elon, 62-55, on Thursday night in the Greensboro Coliseum.
Kyle Randall also finished in double figures for the Spartans (5-16, 4-6 Southern Conference) with 11 points. Pete Brown finished with a career-high six blocked shots, one shy of the school record. Brown now has 19 blocked shots in the last five games.
Koivisto, a native of Vantaa, Finland who spent most of the first two months of the season banged up, knocked down 5-of-11 from three-point range to show signs of his old-self. He also had four assists.
Drew Spradlin led the Phoenix (4-16, 2-7 SoCon) with 18 points and Adam Constantine chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds in the losing effort. Spradlin was in double digits for the fifth consecutive game and ninth time in the last 12 outings.
UNCG led wire-to-wire, but the Phoenix rallied in the second half to make things interesting. Trailing by 15 at the half, Elon opened the second half on a 9-0 run to pull within six at 31-25 on a layup by Constantine. The Phoenix continued to chip away at the Spartan lead throughout the second half before making it a one-point game on a Spradlin three-pointer with 6:18 to play, 48-47.
With 5:31 left, Josh Bonney cut the margin to one again with the first of two free throws, but he missed his second free throw, which would've tied the game at 50-all. Koivisto ran down the court after the miss and hit a three-pointer from the right wing to spark a 10-2 Spartan run that put the game away.
The win was UNCG's seventh straight over their backyard rivals. It was also UNCG's third consecutive win at the Coliseum.
The Spartans controlled the opening half from the tip as they jumped out to an 11-3 in the first seven minutes of the contest. The Phoenix responded with a run of their own to pull within three at 19-16 on a 3-pointer by Chris Long.
A jumper and 3-pointer by Brandon Evans, sandwiched around a Stywall jumper, sparked a 12-0 run by UNCG over the final five minutes of the half to give the Spartans a 31-16 lead at the break.
UNCG held Elon to 22.6 percent shooting in the first half, which was the Phoenix's worst percentage in any half this season. A slow starting team for much of the season, the 16 points were the fewest UNCG has allowed in an opening half this year. For the season, UNCG's opponents were averaging 35.2 points in the first half, shooting 46.1 percent from the floor, prior to Thursday night.
The Spartans now have a week off before returning to the court on Thursday, Feb. 4 when they travel to Furman for a 7 p.m. contest.
UNCG 62, ELON 55
ELON (4-16, 2-7)
Drew Spradlin 7-15 2-6 18; Adam Constantine 6-12 1-3 13; Chris Long 3-10 0-2 8; Terrance Birdette 2-6 1-1 5; Scott Grable 0-2 3-4 3; Josh Bonney 0-2 2-4 2; Tj Douglas 1-6 0-0 2; Devan Carter 1-7 0-0 2; Brett Ervin 1-1 0-0 2; Daniel Watts 0-0 0-0 0; Jon Ogolo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-61 9-20 55.
UNCG (5-16, 4-6)
Mikko Koivisto 6-16 0-0 17; Ben Stywall 7-12 0-2 14; Kyle Randall 4-7 3-4 11; Kendall Toney 3-6 0-1 8; Brandon Evans 3-6 0-0 7; Pete Brown 2-4 1-2 5; Brian Cole 0-1 0-0 0; Deangelo Jackson 0-1 0-0 0; Montel Smith 0-1 0-0 0; Korey Van Dussen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-54 4-9 62.
Halftime: UNCG 31-16. 3-point goals--Elon 4-22 (Drew Spradlin 2-6; Chris Long 2-5; Terrance Birdette 0-4; Tj Douglas 0-5; Devan Carter 0-2), UNCG 8-17 (Mikko Koivisto 5-11; Kendall Toney 2-4; Brandon Evans 1-1; Montel Smith 0-1). Fouled out--Elon-None, UNCG-None. Rebounds--Elon 39 (Adam Constantine 11), UNCG 33 (Ben Stywall 9). Assists--Elon 8 (Drew Spradlin 3), UNCG 16 (Mikko Koivisto 4; Kyle Randall 4). Total fouls--Elon 14, UNCG 19. Technical fouls--Elon-None, UNCG-None. Att - 3338.
FREE THROWS: Following the game, it was an emotional UNCG locker room as the player mobbed associate head coach Rod Jensen. With coach Mike Dement serving a one-game suspension for his ejection on Saturday, Jensen was the bench boss from start to finish for the first time in nearly eight seasons. One player shouted "still got it, Coach."... Dement watched the game on the internet from his office back on campus. He left the team after the pre-game meal and did not talk to them again until a late night on-campus meeting. Per rules, he had to wait one hour after the game to address them... Stywall moved into 11th place on the UNCG all-time scoring list, now at 1,101 points. He is also just two rebounds shy of Eric Cuthrell and fourth place on the school's all-time rebounding list... Kendall Toney had two three-pointers to extend his streak to 12 straight games with a trey.