Clad in pink sneakers and pink headbands in honor of February’s National Cancer Prevention Month, UNCG Women’s Basketball returned to Fleming Gymnasium last week after a two-game road trip, shrugging off a slow start to defeat Wofford 77-61 on Feb 6, then falling to Furman 59-49 on Saturday.
The Spartans (9-15, 3-6 in SoCon) trailed the Terriers (11-12, 3-5 in SoCon) by seven after the first quarter, coughing up six turnovers while allowing 12 points in the paint. UNCG would tighten up in the second quarter, slowly chipping away at the Wofford lead and headed into halftime up 30-29.
After Wofford retook the lead at 33-32, UNCG followed with a Nadine Soliman layup, and an Alexis Pitchford three. It was the last time that the Spartans trailed. They outscored Wofford 25-12 in the fourth quarter, and pulled away for the impressive 16-point victory. Aja Boyd finished with 21 points and Soliman tacked on another 20 to lead the Spartans.
UNCG was back at Fleming three days later to face the Furman Paladins (14-10, 6-3 in SoCon) in a physical, gritty SoCon matchup. The Spartans scored the first five points of the game, thanks in part to a pair of Boyd jumpers, but went cold after that. Furman’s Jade Kirisome responded with a three from the corner, sparking a 13-2 Paladin run.
UNCG’s shooting struggles continued into the second quarter; the Blue and Gold shot just 39 percent and went 0-6 from behind-the-arc in the first half. Furman fared little better, with UNCG’s post size and aggressive on-ball defense giving the Paladins fits.
Furman came out firing after the break, swishing a trio of triples within the first five minutes to help balloon their lead to 11. However, UNCG’s shooting woes continued. Soliman managed to stop the bleeding with an and-one on a transition layup followed by a long pull-up three, but Furman shot right back with two Le’jzae Davidson triples that sucked the life out of the home crowd.
Davidson’s clutch shooting proved to be the final nails in UNCG’s coffin, as they would get the Furman lead down to single digits only once again. The Spartans took a poor offensive performance in the first half and compounded it by shooting 8-36 in the second half—that’s 22.2 percents. Two of these shots came with less than 30 seconds left, long after the outcome had been decided. UNCG finished the game shooting 30 percent overall, while Furman shot 40 percent.
“I thought we were a little hesitant [on offense],” head coach Trina Patterson said after the game. “[Furman] was in the position where they were switching and really closing the gaps, which made us hesitate, and so, when you have to think and shoot, you have a tendency to miss.”
Soliman led the Spartans with 13 points on 5-18 shooting. Davidson led the Paladins with 14 points.
UNCG will now embark on a three-game road trip that will include a visit to league-leading Mercer tomorrow. They will then close out the regular season with a two-game home stand against Chattanooga and East Tennessee State, respectively.