GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women’s basketball had three players score in double figures, but the Spartans went cold in the second half and fell to the Murray State Racers Monday night. The Spartans outrebounded the Racers 37-27, but shot just 31-percent from the field in the second half. UNCG falls to 4-6 on the season and Murray State improves to 3-6.
“The key for us is to string four quarters together.” Head coach Trina Patterson said, “We started off well tonight, but we have to maintain that intensity throughout the entire 40 minutes. We have to maintain our energy level, and that’s something we’re going to work on. Murray State did a great job in the second half. We outrebounded them by ten, but that wasn’t good enough tonight. Our rebounding numbers are encouraging, but we need to shoot better against the zone, that third quarter hurt us. We have to be able to put a complete game together.”
Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) led the Spartans with 16 points and grabbed three rebounds. Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) nearly earned her fourth double-double, scoring 13 points and hauling down nine rebounds. Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Both teams stumbled out of the gate as the first points were recorded just over three minutes into the game when Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) dished to Soliman who hit from distance to go up 3-0 3:03 into the first quarter. The Spartans went up 10-3to start the game before Murray State got going. The Racers scored 10 points over the final 2:31 of the quarter to cut UNCG’s lead to 14-13 after the first quarter.
UNCG used a late run to take an 11-point lead into the break. After leading by four with 2:57 left, Twitty hit layups on back-to-back possessions to go up by eight before Willey scored hit a free throw and a jumper on back-to-back possessions to go up 33-22. After Emma Johnson sunk a pair of free throws to cut the lead to nine, Ajemba hit another layup with 0:30 remaining to go back up 11. The Spartan defense forced a turnover on Murray State’s last possession of the half to head into the break leading 35-24.
The Racers came out of the break fast, going on an 11-2 run to cut the lead to one before taking their first lead with 3:21 remaining in the quarter when Janika Griffith-Wallace converted a pair of free throws. Abria Gulledge and Ajemba traded jumpers to put UNCG up 43-42 headed in to the final quarter.
Murray State took advantage of eight Spartan fouls in the final quarter, going 11-for-13 from the charity stripe to extend its lead. After a Twitty layup held MSU’s lead at 46-45, Murray State went on a 5-0 run to lead 51-45 with 7:22 remaining. The Spartans would cut the lead to three after Willey connected on her second 3-pointer of the night at 55-52 with 2:36 on the clock. The Racers extended their lead on a Griffith-Wallace jumper and finished 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to cement the victory.
UNCG returns to action Friday night as it heads to Norfolk, Virginia for a matchup with the Norfolk State Spartans at 6 p.m.