The UNCG Women’s Basketball team accepted a bid to compete in the eighth annual Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) Tournament after concluding its most successful season in recent memory.
The Spartans were knocked out in the second round of the SoCon tournament earlier in the month, but have managed to advance to the semifinals of the WBI after defeating Charleston Southern on Wednesday and Brown on Sunday.
Wednesday’s matchup versus Brown was a low-scoring affair, but saw the Spartans edge out the Buccaneers with a 45-37 victory. The Spartans committed 26 turnovers on the game and gave up 21 offensive rebounds, resulting in CSU attempting 63 field goals on the night, compared to UNCG’s 36. Despite this, the Spartans were able to hold the Buccaneers to just 19 percent shooting on the game, while hitting at a 50 percent clip.
UNCG started off the game on a quick 9-0 run, but both teams struggled to put points on the board for the remainder of the quarter, which ended with the score favoring the Spartans 11-4.
In the second quarter, CSU began to fight back and brought the deficit to as close as four. However, the Spartans were able to weather the storm and take a 25-15 advantage going into the half.
Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter, but again the Spartans were able to take charge in the period. The Blue and Gold ended the period with an 8-3 run and took a 37-23 lead going into the final 10 minutes.
The Spartans stretched the lead to 41-23 in the fourth quarter, and the Buccaneers responded with a 13-3 run, which cut the Spartan lead to just eight points. UNCG however, was able to hold on and secure the victory as time expired.
Sunday’s quarterfinal game versus Brown on the other hand, was a shooting exhibition.
UNCG was able to complete a comeback after being down double digits, and scored a season high 87 points. Bailey Williams shouldered most of the offensive load for the Spartans, and finished the game with 27 points and 6 assists, while committing zero turnovers. SoCon freshman of the year Nadine Soliman scored 19 points on the afternoon, while Alexus Willey and Te’ja Twitty added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The first quarter was marked by some early hot shooting for the Brown Bears, but after the first 10 minutes, the Spartans only found themselves down two points, 17-19.
Brown’s hot shooting continued in the second quarter, as the Bears shot at a 60 percent clip in the period, good for 30 points. The Spartans meanwhile, traded baskets with Brown for most of the quarter, before the Bears were able to finish the period on a 10-0 run, and held a 49-38 lead to end the first half.
Both teams uncharacteristically had a tough time scoring in the third quarter, but Brown was eventually able to stretch their lead to 14 points about halfway through the period. The Spartans then used a 9-2 run to cut the lead to seven points, and entered the final stretch down 57-63.
The fourth quarter was the Bailey Williams show. The senior guard scored 15 of her 27 points in the final ten minutes, and completely eviscerated the Bears’ defense with tough floaters, and a handful of jump-shots from the midrange area and from behind the three-point line. The Spartans started off the final quarter on a 10-4 run, and tied the score at 67 with about six minutes left on the game clock. The two teams would trade baskets for the next four minutes, with Williams leading the charge for UNCG.
With the Spartans up 78-77, Williams converted a huge three-point play for UNCG to give the blue and gold a four point lead with two minutes remaining. From here, the Spartans were able to convert enough free throws to narrowly win the contest 87-84.
UNCG (19-14) will continue its postseason play in the semifinals of the WBI on Thursday, when they’ll face Milwaukee (22-11) in Fleming Gymnasium.