Dominating Defense Leads Women's Basketball to Victory Over Western Carolina
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women’s basketball picked its second Southern Conference victory of the season Saturday evening, defeating the Western Carolina Catamounts 62-45 inside Fleming Gymnasium. The Spartan defense held the Western Carolina Catamounts to 27-percent shooting from the field, and 13-percent from behind the arc in the contest. UNCG improves to 11-11 overall, and 2-5 in Southern Conference play. Western Carolina falls to 5-17 and 0-7 in the SoCon.
The 11 wins marks the most wins in a season since the 2010-11 season. The victory over the Catamounts snapped a nine-game losing streak in the series, with the last victory against WCU coming in the second meeting of the 2010-11 season.
“Our goal was to keep Western Carolina at or below their season average of 50 points and we were able to do that today.” Head coach Trina Patterson said, “We wanted to get to the basket and be in attack mode. We wanted to take care of the little things, 50-50 balls, things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, and I thought we had some great play out of people that accomplished those goals. (Alexus) Willey gave us some energy, diving on the floor after loose balls; those are the kind of plays we’re looking for. It was a total team effort today.”
Freshman Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) and senior Shanese Harris (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) led the Spartan offense. Soliman led all scorers with 18 points, shooting seven-of-12 from the field. Harris added 17 points off the bench, and was six-of-eight from the charity stripe.
UNCG forced 18 Western Carolina turnovers, and combined for 12 steals on the evening. Harris led the team with three steals, and tied with Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) and India Timpton (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) with a team-high of seven rebounds.
The Blue and Gold raced out to a 9-2 lead in the first 3:01 of action. Soliman scored all nine points in the run. WCU roared back, cutting the lead to 13-12 with 45 seconds remaining in the quarter. Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to put the Spartans up 16-13 at the end of the first 10 minutes.
The Catamounts were able to tie the game up at 16-16 with 8:28 left in the second quarter following a free throw from Raziyah Farrington. UNCG used an 11-1 to regain a 10-point advantage. Soliman scored on back-to-back fast break layups, helping put UNCG up 29-19. UNCG scored the final six points of the quarter to lead 37-23 at the half.
WCU was able to cut into the Spartan lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Spartans 14-9 in the frame. Kyia Hough started the second half hitting from behind the arc, to cut the lead down to 11. The Spartans stretched the lead back out to 15 following a Soliman layup with 5:05 remaining in the quarter. After a 3-point play from Harris, Western Carolina got a 3-point play of its own to cut the lead back down to 11. A Tess Harris 3-pointer with five seconds remaining in the quarter put the score at 46-37 in favor of UNCG.
The final quarter started with the Catamounts continuing their comeback. WCU was able to trim the lead down to seven on three occasions but were unable to come closer. The Spartan defense tightened up over the last six minutes, as UNCG went on an 11-1 run to close out the game. The Spartans didn’t allow a field goal over the final six minutes of action.
UNCG returns to action Wednesday, Feb. 1 as it plays host to the Wofford Terriers. Tip off is set for 7:00 p.m.