Nadine Soliman recorded a 24/12 double-double, Te’ja Twitty added 16 points and UNCG (8-12, 2-3 SoCon) led for the final 39 minutes of the game as they cruised past Western Carolina (4-16, 0-5 SoCon) at Fleming Gym on Saturday, 71-59.
After previously losing six of their last seven games, it was a much-needed win for a Spartan team that has struggled to close out games this season. Undersized and young, the rebuilding Catamounts were outmatched from the start, taking a 3-2 lead before UNCG exploded for a 10-2 run. Fueled by a 43-30 advantage on the glass and 19 Catamount turnovers, the Spartans never looked back from there.
It was Soliman’s third consecutive double-double. The junior forward is now tied for first in scoring in the SoCon at 19.3 points per game and sits in second in rebounding at 7.9 per game. Add in a 38 percent three-point field goal percentage and nearly two steals per game, and Soliman has a good case for SoCon Player of the Year. She’s been keeping this Spartan team afloat all season, which is fifth in conference standings but second in scoring margin.
UNCG extended their lead to 15 early in the second quarter, but the Catamounts clawed their way back into the game. UNCG’s lead was cut to seven at halftime, 38-31, and then cut to six, 43-37, with 6:37 to go in the third quarter. The Spartans responded with a decisive 11-2 run that pushed their lead back up to 15. After that, UNCG switched to cruise control and ultimately earned the 71-59 victory.
Aja Boyd added 15 points and 6 rebounds for the Spartans, while the Catamounts were led by Jewel Smalls, who had 21 points on 8-12 shooting but also coughed up 7 turnovers. Western Carolina, still winless in conference play, will continue their road trip through the weekend before returning to Cullowhee next week.
The Spartans, meanwhile, now head to Johnson City for a rivalry game with ETSU on Thursday, then will travel to Chattanooga on Saturday. They will return to Fleming Gym next Wednesday to take on the Wofford Terriers, which earlier defeated UNCG 93-66. The Spartans will look to avenge that loss in front of a friendly crowd at Fleming and will need to continue their quality play if they hope for a good draw in the SoCon Tournament.