Women’s Basketball Turns It On In Second Half, Pummels Furman 65-52
GREENSBORO, N.C.- Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) posted a team-high 16 points, converting seven-of-eight attempts from the charity stripe, and Te’ja Twitty recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 14 boards as UNCG (13-11, 4-5 SoCon) pulled away from Furman (12-13, 5-4 SoCon) in the second half in a 65-52 win at Fleming Gymnasium Saturday.
“At halftime I just talked about winning ugly,” said head coach Trina Patterson. “If it’s ugly and you still get the “W”, that’s all that matters. We’re at that part of the season when teams know each other but we know that when we play our defense things may not be pretty on the offensive end but we’re able to create turnovers with our press.”
The Spartans controlled the glass, grabbing seven more rebounds than the Paladins, including 16 boards on the offensive end of the floor. That resulted in a 32-20 disparity in the paint for UNCG, with 22 of those points in the paint coming in the second half.
Pitchford was a catalyst for the UNCG offense, bringing tremendous energy and pace that gave Furman fits. In addition to her shooting performance, the freshman guard filled the stat sheet with five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
“I was really proud of AP’s intensity,” continued Patterson. “That was probably the most intensity she’s showed in a long time. She was really key in the run that we had. It was also really good to see Te’ja with a double-double. She’s hasn’t been attacking the boards lately and tonight we saw a change in that.”
In addition to Pitchford and Twitty’s offensive output, Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) put up 15 points and tied her season-high with three assists, While Shanese Harris (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) came off the bench to add nine points.
For Furman, Le’Jzae Davidson led all scorers with 19 points, sinking half of her six attempts from behind the arc. DeAnneisha Jackson provided a big spark in reserve duty, making six-of-10 field goals en route to 16 points.
Things started off slow for UNCG as the Paladins jumped out to a 6-0 lead and held the Spartans off the scoreboard through the game’s first 4:11. However, UNCG quickly responded to bring things close. Furman had the final word in the quarter as Davidson drilled a triple from well behind the arc seconds before the horn.
A pair of Pitchford free throws midway through the second gave the Spartans a four-point advantage but a 6-0 run to close out the half put the Paladins ahead by two heading into the locker room at 24-22.
UNCG could count itself lucky to only be down a pair at the break. The Spartans shot just 26.7-percent in the opening 20 minutes, compared to a 40.0 percentage from Furman. However, UNCG displayed tenacious defense, forcing the Paladins into 13 first half turnovers.
The third quarter is what spelled the difference in the game as UNCG turned up the pressure with its press and overwhelmed the Paladins. UNCG opened the quarter on a 8-0 run and scored 14 of the stanza’s first 16 points to seize control.
In total, the Spartans outscored Furman 25-7 in the third, making nine-of-18 field goals and seven-of-nine free throws. The Blue and Gold turned the Paladins over seven times, resulting in 10 points. Soliman was especially effective, scoring 10 points on four-of-five attempts.
“We think that we’re a pretty well conditioned team and we know that it’s just a matter of time before it effects teams,” stated Patterson. “It really effected them in the third quarter and we saw the reward in forcing turnovers and finishing with layups.”
With a 16-point lead in hand, UNCG did not relent. The Spartans posted 18 points in the final quarter, allowing 21 from the Paladins to secure a fourth-straight home Southern Conference victory. The streak is the longest for UNCG since the 2006-07 season, when the Spartans also rattled off four in a row.
UNCG takes to the road next week, travelling to Birmingham, Alabama for a matchup with Samford on Thursday before travelling to Macon, Georgia to face off against Mercer on Saturday.