UNCG Women’s Basketball season came to an end in Asheville on Thursday, falling 72-62 to Chattanooga in the SoCon Tournament. The Spartans finish the 2019 campaign with an 11-19 record after finishing 13-18 last season.
The sixth-seeded Spartans knew they’d have their hands full with no. 3 seed Chattanooga, whom they had split the season series with. UNCG had earlier defeated the Lady Mocs 53-49 on Feb. 28 but lost 64-54 on Feb. 2, respectively.
Junior forward Nadine Soliman led the Spartans with 19 points and 7 boards, and junior guard Cece Crudup added 14 points in one of her best offensive performances of the season. UNCG, however, shot 34 percent for the night and saw Chattanooga hit 21 free throws to their six. It was just enough to allow the Lady Mocs to squeak by with the ten-point win.
The contest looked at first like it might get ugly. The Lady Mocs did not trail game, blasting off with a 15-2 run and leading 23-10 at the end of the first quarter. UNCG shot just 18 percent in the opening quarter, and 20 percent for the first half.
Still, UNCG found itself down only nine at halftime thanks to another smothering defensive performance. The Spartans, which led the SoCon in scoring defense at 60.9 points per game, surrendered just eight points in the second quarter and continued to dominate on the offensive glass, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds on the night to Chattanooga’s nine. The Blue and Gold simply couldn’t put the ball in the basket—a common theme for this squad, which shot a pedestrian 39 percent from the field this season.
After trading blows in the third quarter, the Spartans finally got heated up in the fourth, shooting a scorching 57 percent. However, Chattanooga did too, and eventually stretched their lead to 61-49. That’s when UNCG locked it in. Sophomore center Aja Boyd scrapped for her own miss, then flipped it up for a layup to bring the deficit to within ten. Following a Chattanooga bucket and a UNCG layup, Nadine Soliman stepped into a clutch three brought the Spartans to within seven, 63-56.
Crudup nabbed the ball from Chattanooga’s Morgan Hill the next possession and coasted for the transition layup. Five-point game—the closest UNCG had been since the first quarter. Unfortunately, the Spartans ran out of gas and the Lady Mocs were able to convert nine of their last ten free throws to pull away for the victory despite UNCG’s valiant comeback effort.
The Lady Mocs moved onto the SoCon Tournament Semifinals, where they lost to second-seeded Furman 73-67. The Paladins advanced onto the Final, matched up against no. 1 Mercer, which went a perfect 14-0 in conference play. Mercer pulled out a gritty 66-63 win for their second consecutive SoCon championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
UNCG now has a long offseason ahead and will return most of the team. If Soliman can get some help on offense, UNCG Women’s Basketball will be sleeper in the SoCon in 2020.