As the Women’s Basketball team enter their final week of the regular season before the SoCon playoffs, each win matters in who they will compete against. This past week, the team played host to two conference rivals, Samford and Mercer. Unfortunately, the team fell in both games by a combined margin of 10 points. This leaves the team with a 11-17 overall record and 5-8 in conference record.
Thursday saw UNCG take on the Samford Bulldogs, where they would lose to them 60-53. The Spartans had two players who scored in double figures that night in Ije Ajemba with 18 points and 8 rebounds and Brandi Fier with 10 points five rebounds and 2 assists. It was a back and forth game for the most part throughout the first half as Samford was up 30-29 at the half. UNCG then went on a 9-1 run to open the third quarter and putting the score 38-31. Samford cut more into the deficit while the Spartans switched up their defense a few times to tie the game up at 46 entering into the fourth quarter.
There were a few scores from both teams as Fier finished a 3-point play, to cut the Samford lead to 54-53. Both teams went scoreless over a span of five minutes as neither team were able to get a leg up on each other. Bulldog Cassidy Williams then recorded a three point play to extend the lead against the Spartans to two baskets. The Spartans were held scoreless over the last six minutes and 27 seconds of the game, as Samford limited the Spartans to 3 of 17 shooting and four turnovers. The Spartans gave up 48 bench points, while the Spartans’ bench scored a mere 10 points. The Spartans did outscore the Bulldogs in points in the paint with 34-24.
After the game, Spartans’ coach Trina Patterson talked about their first game with Samford (which UNCG lost 48-56) compared to this one.
“There was a big, big difference between that game and from the first time we played Mercer. We were tied with him at halftime down at their place before they went on this big run and we ended up losing by more than 20.” Coach Patterson explained. “Tonight we stuck with them and played well but unfortunately we couldn’t make enough plays at the end to get the result. With Alexus (Willey) being out, we really had to tweak our starting lineup.”
Patterson then looked ahead to Mercer, which they played host to on Saturday.
“Mercer is the number one team in the league in scoring offense, free throw percentage and scoring defense and we paid specific attention to certain elements where we thought we could be in survivor mode.” Patterson continued, “Because it was our pink we knew we had a lot of survivors out and supporting us. We really tried to embrace that mentality, and do what survivors do. They fight and are positive and overcome the odds. I’m really proud of our growth from January to now.”
To wrap up the weekend, the Spartans had to play the best team in the SoCon conference, the Mercer Bears, who are currently 25-2 and 12-0 in conference play and is currently on a 22 game win streak. Te’ja Twitty and Ija Ajemba both finished the game with a double double as the Spartans fell short of an impressive upset 57-54. The Spartans started the game off strong with limiting the Bears to only eight points in the first quarter with Mercer shooting only 17.6 percent from the field. The Spartans did a great job in limiting Mercer’s bench points in this matchup to just five points, and managed to outscore the Bears in the paint 32-22.
As the regular season is starting to wrap up, the Spartans look forward to ending on a great note with their final regular season game being against Western Carolina at home. The game is expected to be a packed game for the Spartans final home game of the season.