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Nov. 24, 2007
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Luke Payne reached a career milestone, scoring his 1,000th point in a stellar career at USC Upstate, but the effort was not enough against a hot-shooting UNC Greensboro squad as the battle of the Spartans went the way of UNCG by a 93-76 score Saturday night at Fleming Gymnasium.
Upstate falls to 0-5 on the year and travels to Cincinnati to play the Cincinnati Bearcats Monday night at 8:00. UNCG improves to 3-1 on the year with the win.
Payne notched his 1,000th point on a three-pointer with 7:10 to play. Josh Chavis assisted on Payne's historic shot. Payne is one of 17 players to reach 1,000 points in the history of the Upstate program and, with 15 points Saturday, stands at 1,003 for his career. He also ranks among the all-time greats in 12 other statistical categories.
"It kind of snuck up on me," said Payne. "No one really said anything to me and I didn't know how close to it I was. It's an honor. I try to play hard and do the best I can. It's special and I will cherish it. I just hope that the points I score in the future help the team get better and help us pick up a win."
Despite Payne's 15-point performance and two other Spartans finishing in double figures, Upstate could not slow down a potent UNCG offensive attack. Four UNCG players finished in double figures led by Kendall Toney who hit 8-of-9 three-pointers and finished with 24 points. Toney and Mikko Koivisto teamed to shoot the lights out from outside. Koivisto hot 3-of-4 from long range and UNCG connected on 12-of-20 (60.0%) from the arc. The hot-shooting Spartans finished the game shooting 54.4 percent from the floor overall.
"They knocked us back on our heels and were physical early in the game," said Upstate head coach Eddie Payne. "We had a tough time getting into our sets on offense and we didn't get in the right spots on defense. It was a variety of things tonight. We got our noses knocked around. We eventually responded, but I wish we could have responded earlier."
Koivisto finished with 13 points, while Ben Stywall added 13. Kyle Hines set the tone early and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for UNCG, marking the 54th straight game he has reached double figures in scoring.
UNC Greensboro shot a blistering 7-of-11 from three-point territory in the first half and used a cold-shooting effort by the Spartans to take command in the first half. Upstate shot 41.4 percent from the floor in the first half, but late buckets increased the percentage from the 30's that the Spartans were shooting for most of the half.
Bobby Davis' layup with 14:49 to play in the half cut the UNCG lead to four points, but Greensboro went on an 18-2 run over the next four minutes to open a 30-10 lead with 10:43 to go. Trailing by 20 with 1:16 to play, Rashawn Brailsford made a three-pointer and sank 3-of-4 free throws to end the half on a 6-0 Spartan run as Upstate went into the half with a 50-36 deficit.
UNC Greensboro took it largest lead of the game, to that point, when Dwayne Johnson converted a layup to give the Spartans a 64-42 lead with 14:41 to play. Upstate, though, battled to cut the lead to 14 points on three occasions, but the deficit was too big and Greensboro regained control to increase the lead back over 20 points.
Upstate had its best shooting night of the season, finishing the game at 45.8 percent from the floor and hitting 9-of-21 from the three-point arc. Both teams committed 18 turnovers apiece.
Payne led the way with a team-high 15 points for Upstate. Brailsford added a career-high 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, and also grabbed four rebounds and came up with three steals. Nick Schneiders, who brought the crowd to their feet with a thunderous one-handed dunk over Hines, tied his career-high with 11 points and added five boards and three blocks.