After falling by seven points at Georgia State to open up their 2018-19 season, UNCG Women’s Basketball bounced back in a big way on Sunday, trouncing a thoroughly outmatched Pfeiffer team by a score of 92-23.
With a core group of returning players that were amongst the youngest teams in all of women’s college basketball last season, the Spartans began their season on the road and in a hostile environment at GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta. Still, the Spartans came out firing, taking an early 9-0 lead before the Panther defense settled in.
The Panthers slowly clawed their way back, taking a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Georgia State would go on to lead by as many as 16 points early in the third before UNCG led a comeback of their own, thanks in no small part to the hot hand of 2018 All-SoCon Nadine Soliman, who finished with a game-high 20 points and six three-pointers.
A Soliman three put the Spartans up by one with 8:02 left in the ball game, but Georgia State responded with two consecutive threes of their own. With UNCG now down by five, the Panthers would go on to pull out a hard-fought win, 70-63.
UNCG opened things up in front of their Spartan faithful at Fleming Gym on Sunday, and this one was never in doubt. Junior point guard Alexis Pitchford opened with a three-pointer, and the Spartans would start off on an 8-0 run and did not look back from there, owning a 20-8 at the end of the first quarter. Pfeiffer, which just last year transitioned from NCAA DII to NCAA DIII, never stood a chance against the length, athleticism, and sheer talent of UNCG.
The Spartans held the Falcons to a miserable 23 points, out-rebounded them 63-30—including a stunning 36 offensive rebounds—and forced 42 turnovers on the afternoon. Domination would be an understatement. To Pfeiffer’s credit, there was never any shortage of effort, even down by 60 points. They came into the game prepared, but it was impossible for the Falcons to execute offensively with the Spartans owning the paint and practically living in passing lanes.
Soliman continued her hot start to the season, netting a career-high of 36 points on 14-27 shooting. Soliman flirted with a triple-double, also garnering nine rebounds and eight steals. Junior Te’ja Twitty led the Spartans with 14 rebounds to go along with her 20 points and four steals. Aja Boyd finished with 11 points and Pitchford finished with ten to round out the Spartans who scored in double-figures.
It was a breeze of a game, perhaps a needed one after last week’s earlier slugfest against Georgia State. In front of their home crowd, it must’ve felt good to get a win under their belts—and an easy one at that. Plenty of reserves saw meaningful action, which could come in handy later in the season.
Still, there were plenty of areas to improve upon after UNCG’s shellacking of Pfeiffer. Though they scored 92 points, most of these came on breakaway layups that simply will not be there once competition ramps up.
The Spartans shot a subpar 38 percent from the field and an abysmal 5-25 from behind the arc. That will have to change if UNCG wants to remain competitive in the SoCon. For now, though, UNCG is off to a good start, and they’ll have to bring their A-game as they travel to Appalachian State on Thursday.