The UNC-Greensboro women’s basketball team has been up and down this entire basketball season.
Non-conference play looked pretty well for the Spartans with some huge victories against schools such as High Point, Longwood, NC Central and New Orleans.
Conference play has been a different story for the Spartans though, struggling in the extremely talented Southern Conference. The team has had many tough losses throughout the conference season.
UNCG faced Mercer in their first conference game and lost to the Bears in overtime. The next conference game was another heart-breaking loss to Samford. Wofford came into Fleming Gymnasium and beat the Spartans in overtime as well.
But for every overtime loss to Wofford and Mercer, there were also blowout losses to Chattanooga and Samford. Coming into the final conference game last saturday, the blue and gold was hoping for its first win in conference play. Western Carolina came into Fleming Gymnasium for senior day for UNCG’s Lucy Mason, Kaitlin Callahan, Jazmine Missouri and Medena Bartley.
Western Carolina came out to play against UNCG. The Catamounts controlled the speed of the game throughout the entire first half. It just felt like the Spartans were trying to keep up with Western Carolina throughout the early part of the game.
At one point, Western Carolina was leading UNCG by 19 points. The Spartans were able to cut the deficit to 45-33 by halftime, despite first half statistics that should have seen a more wide open lead for WCU.
In the first half, the Catamounts shot 54 percent overall from the floor, 40 percent from the three point line, and 81 percent from the free throw line. It was a totally different story for the Spartans. They shot 34 percent from the field overall, only shot 14 percent from the three point line and 46 percent from the free throw line.
The second half was a whole different story for the Catamounts and Spartans. It was like the Spartans took the breath right out of Western Carolina during most of the second half. UNCG continued to chip away at Western’s lead.
The main reasons for this was Lucy Mason and UNCG’s full-court defense. Lucy Mason had a superb first half for the Spartans with twelve points, but really took over in the second half. When the Spartans needed a basket, the basketball was definitely in her hand.
Also, the Spartans showed glimpses of superb defense. When the Spartans had to play half-court defense against Western Carolina, they seemed to struggle. Western Carolina had a lot of size down low and battered the Spartans in the first half.
However, coach Wendy Palmer made a great in-game change to the defense by deciding to play full-court defense. Western Carolina was so surprised by this and could not break it much during the game. Even when they would break the defense, the Catamounts still struggled to score. UNCG’s full-court defense caused so many turnovers and made such an impact on the game.
Lucy Mason made it interesting when she made a three with about a minute left to cut the lead to three points. However, Western Carolina hit a pair of clutch free throws to seal the game.
Ultimately, the Spartans could not come out with the win at the end. UNCG won the point battle in the second half 47-41, but Western Carolina came out with the 86-80 victory on senior day.
Western Carolina had balanced scoring all-around, with Ace Easter contributing 23 points, Brianne Mack putting up 16 points and 7 rebounds and Ali Lane scoring 14 points and 9 assists.
UNCG had players who shined as well. Lucy Mason had 24 points and 9 rebounds in her final game in Fleming Gymnasium. Jarae Savage had a double-double (23 points and 13 rebounds). India Timpton added 13 points for UNCG. So, UNCG ended conference play with a 0-14 record.
Now, the Spartans look forward to the Southern Conference Tournament. They will either play Mercer or Chattanooga in the first round of the tournament.