Following the men’s basketball team’s tough loss earlier in the afternoon, the UNCG Women’s Basketball team took on the Catamounts of Western Carolina to give Spartans basketball a highlight for the Saturday. In response, the women defeated the Western Carolina Catamounts 62-45 in the team’s first home game since classes for the Spring semester began.
The blue and gold never trailed in the game, and held the Catamounts to under 27 percent shooting from the field. Freshman Nadine Soliman continued her strong play, igniting the Spartan offense with 18 points, while senior Shanese Harris impressively scored another 17 points off of the bench. “Shanese Harris has really come on strong,” UNCG head coach Trina Patterson said, “I really believe that she has clicked it on, and she’s showing her dominance.”
UNCG started the game by coming out of the gate very strong, jumping out to an early 9-2 lead, with all of the Spartans’ points in the run coming from Nadine Soliman. Eventually, WCU was able to regroup and tame the hot start from the Blue and Gold, ending the quarter trailing the Spartans 13-16. “Our guards really focused on penetrating and getting all the way to the basket because the second line of defense wasn’t there,” Coach Patterson said, “When we did that, we had more flow.”
Despite the Catamounts evening up the score, the second quarter was another showcase of strong play from the Spartans. UNCG used an 11-1 run to push the lead to double-digits, and used 15 bench points in the quarter to end the first half up 37-23. The Catamounts was held to just 24 percent shooting from the floor, but they were able to hang around by out-rebounding the Spartans, including 10 first half offensive rebounds. “We really talked about that at halftime.” Coach Patterson remarked, “We weren’t getting bodies and making contact. I thought we did a better job in the second half of boxing out.”
Even with the emphasis on rebounding in the second half, the Spartans continued to struggle in that department in the third quarter, and the Catamounts were able to take advantage. WCU outscored UNCG 14-9 in the quarter and held the Spartans to only 17 percent shooting, but still trailed 46-37 heading into the final quarter of the game. “The third quarter, I thought we weren’t as focused as we should have been.” Coach Patterson admitted, “We had somewhat of a lead, and we got a little too comfortable, which we should not ever be.”
In the fourth quarter, WCU was able to trim the lead to seven on two separate occasions, but found themselves unable to keep up the Spartans. UNCG held the Catamounts to their lowest scoring quarter of the evening, and didn’t allow a field goal in the final six minutes of the game. The 11-1 run by the Spartans at the end of the game sealed the deal, and was highlighted by some huge plays made down the stretch by the team’s seniors. No one was more delighted by the clutch play of the seniors than Coach Patterson. “I want for the seniors to feel success,” she explained, “They work hard, they’re great students, they’re great people, they have high character, and so why not go out with a bang?”
The win marked UNCG’s second conference win of the season, and the team’s second straight home win. The Spartans (11-11, 2-5) will take on the Wofford Terriers on Wednesday at Fleming Gymnasium (12-10, 2-5), a match that could decide who rises to fifth place in the Southern Conference standings before hosting the Paladins of Furman on Saturday afternoon. Both teams have already defeated the Spartans earlier in the year. “Wofford is a really good shooting team, so we have to play defense.” Coach Patterson said, “They shoot the three ball really well so we have to guard the three-point line.”