Men’s Basketball : UNCG 77-83 Western Carolina
Women’s Basketball: UNCG 61-72 Chattanooga
UNCG basketball endured two up-and-down games while the Greensboro Coliseum was given the week off — both the men and the women fought tough battles on the road.
Out west in Cullowhee, the Spartan men faced off against the Western Carolina Catamounts in front of a thin WCU crowd that was decorated with a few gold and blue shirts, loyal fans imported from Greensboro.
The game was competitive from the tip-off. The beginning of the Spartan game plan called for a heavy dosage of forward Marvin Smith, who attacked the basket aggressively and was able to get to the line multiple times.
The scoring was at full force for both sides.
Western Carolina proved athletic enough to run a very productive transition offense, supplemented by a surprising pair of three point shots from senior power forward Torrion Brummit, only his fifth and sixth career three point field goals.
UNCG, on the other side, showed promising improvement in the fluency of their half court offense. Wes Miller has his student athletes moving the ball selflessly in a way that could make for a dangerous Spartan team this year.
The score was 41-37 at half, Spartans lead.
Throughout the second half, Miller focused the bulk of his team’s offensive work on advancing the ball down to RJ White, arguably the most proficient offensive post player in the conference. Despite the Catamounts quick-closing defense, RJ White was able dominate the glass and take up the scoring load.
Despite his effort, a West Carolina three point shot with half a minute left in the game ended up carrying the matchup into overtime, where things began to slip away from the Spartans.
Turnovers plagued overtime after an exceptionally well-played regulation, and the Catamounts took advantage of the opportunity to score some easy points. Miller’s crew only mustered five points to WCU’s eleven in overtime, finishing with an 83-77 Spartans loss.
Despite the final result, UNCG established some fine points to take pride on. The off-ball movement and passing created an offensive machine that appears to be much more effective than last year’s product, and freshman Spaniard, Francis Alonso, has the talent and potential to become the top player in the conference.
Alonso scored 16 points, many of which came off of three point shots from well beyond the arc, and also displayed a crafty passing ability that helped create for his teammates.
For the women’s team, they traveled to Tennessee to face Chattanooga. Early against the Moccasins, the rim was starting to look a little bit smaller for our Spartan women. Despite Kaitlin Callahan’s spectacular floater off the glass to start the game, offense was difficult to come by.
Chattanooga produced 22 points in the same time that UNCG was able to come up with 10, but India Timpton came up with a huge steal and fast break layup to end the first period.
The Spartan defense clamped down on Chattanooga from then on. Head Coach Wendy Palmer made sure her players were doing smoother zone rotations and making better reads, demanding much more effort from their opponents.
In a display of their mental toughness, UNCG worked their way back into the game. Once trailing by as many as 16 points, they found themselves in the lead at 42-41 with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
As they grinded their way into the final quarter, the Spartans began to wear out. Chattanooga junior Queen Alford took the game into her own hands as the minutes winded down to zero, lifting her team over UNCG in what turned out to be a 72-61 Spartan loss.
Lucy Mason was the leading scorer for UNCG with 26 points, playing all forty minutes. Senior guard Kaitlin Callahan picked up a pair of assists and executed smart, efficient decisions throughout the game.
For Chattanooga, the night was excellent. They shot 50% from the field and delivered a well-rounded team performance that made them an extremely challenging team to beat.
Both UNCG basketball teams will look to extract the very best of this week and turn it into a more complete game against their next opponents. The women will look for their first conference win against Wofford on Wednesday, and the men will try for their second against Chattanooga on Thursday.