Three Score in Double Figures as Women's Basketball Falls to Mercer
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Three Spartans scored in double figures in UNCG’s 77-64 loss to the Mercer Bears on Thursday night on Lynne Agee Court inside Fleming Gymnasium. Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) scored 16; Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) scored 13, and senior Gena Penick added 10 points off the bench.
With the loss, UNCG falls to 9-9 overall and 0-3 in Southern Conference action. Mercer improves to 13-4 overall, and 2-1 in the SoCon. Pitchford added three rebounds and a pair of assists in her 22 minutes. Bailey Williams (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) led the team with three assists. Penick added five rebounds and finished 3-for-4 from the field in her 15 minutes of action.
“I thought we played with a lot of heart tonight, especially in that stretch in the fourth quarter.” Head coach Trina Patterson said, “We haven’t quite learned how to play a full 40 minutes yet. When we learn how to do that, I think we’ll be a very dangerous team. Some of that comes from our youth, some of that comes from taking possessions off. We can’t do that.”
“Today I was pleased with the way we shared the ball, we had close to double digit assists.” Patterson continued, “We got a spark of the bench with solid outings from Shanese (Harris) and Gena (Penick). I think our press helps us, but we have to do a better job of boxing out. That’s not us; we don’t tend to give up that many offensive rebounds. We’ll have to get back to the drawing board and put in the work tomorrow at practice. We have to get ready for Samford on Saturday, who is a completely different team. Credit to Mercer and last year’s SoCon Player of the Year (Kahlia Lawrence). She’s a really talented player and is hard to stop, but I thought we did a decent job in the second half.”
Mercer got off to a fast start, scoring the first nine points of the contest. After a Spartan timeout, UNCG was able to trim the lead down to three at 14-11. Mercer closed the quarter out on a 11-3 run to go up 25-14 at the end of the first quarter.
UNCG struggled to slow the Bears down in the second quarter, as UNCG was outscored 18-9. The Bears came out scoring the first four points, before Mangela Ngandui (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist) ended the Bear run with a jumper. After a Kahlia Lawrence layup put Mercer up 15, Penick scored three points in back-to-back possessions. Mercer extended the lead to 22 before Soliman hit a layup at the end of the first half to cut the lead to 43-23.
The Blue and Gold was able to keep pace with the Bears in the second half, outscoring Mercer 41-34 in the final 20 minutes. The teams exchanged buckets to start the quarter before Pitchford scored on back-to-back possessions to cut into the Mercer lead. Shanese Harris (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) and Pitchford each converted a pair of free throws before Mercer closed the quarter by outscoring UNCG 16-9 over the final four minutes.
The Spartans were able to trim down the Mercer lead in the final frame. After a pair of free throws by senior India Timpton (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park), Pitchford scored on back-to-back possessions, along with an old-fashioned three-point play from Penick cut the lead down to 66-51 Mercer. Mercer converted three free throws before a Soliman three pointer brought the lead back to 15. Back-to-back free throws from Penick with 2:37 remaining cut the lead to 13, before another free throw from Timpton cut the deficit to 12. Back-to-back layups from Soliman trimmed the lead down to 10 with 46 seconds remaining, but UNCG could come no closer.
The Spartans return to action Saturday, January 14th as they host the Samford Bulldogs at 4:00 p.m. inside Fleming Gymnasium.