GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women’s basketball got off to a fast start but could not maintain the momentum throughout the full 40 minutes Thursday night. The Spartans fell 81-72 at home to the High Point Panthers in Fleming Gymnasium. High Point now evens the all-time series at 13-13 as they improve to 6-5 on the season. The Spartans fall to 5-9.
“We need to learn to put together a full 40 minutes.” Trina Patterson said, “We had some dominant post play today. They did a really good job. Ije (Ajemba) is continuing to play well and show that she is a consistently dominant force. Te’ja (Twitty) was solid tonight as well, but we need more of a guard presence. Defensively, we need to be in better position to get stops.”
“We’re going to use this as a learning experience.” Patterson continued, “Our sophomore class has a big learning curve right now. We aren’t coming out on the winning end, but we’re using it as a learning experience. Last season against High Point was battle down the stretch as well. Next year we get to play High Point again, we like the energy that was in the crowd tonight, I like the rivalry between us. They’re a really good team with really good guard play and we’re going to use this and get better from it.”
Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) led the Spartan offense with her second-consecutive 22-point effort. Ajemba earned her sixth double-double as she hauled down 11 rebounds. Six of Ajemba’s rebounds were on the offensive glass as UNCG outscored HPU 19-6 on second chance opportunities.
Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) added a 16-point performance as she grabbed four boards. Both Twitty and Ajemba were 7-for-12 from the field as UNCG shot 42-percent as a team.
High Point came out and hit a pair of 3-pointers to go up 6-2 just 2:50 into the game, but the Spartans went on an 11-0 run to take a lead 13-6 following a Twitty fast break layup. High Point cut the lead to 13-9 on a Kat Harris 3-pointer, but UNCG closed the quarter on a 14-5 run with Aneka Yelverton (Suffolk, Va./Naval Academy Preparatory) hitting a 3-pointer over the final 2:53 of the quarter. UNCG shot 50-percent from the field in the first 10 minutes, but put pack eight second-chance points and outscored High Point 12-2 in the paint.
High Point bounced back well in the second quarter, limiting UNCG to just 14 points. After cutting the Spartan lead to eight after Jiselle Thomas finished off an old-fashioned 3-point play, UNCG ran its lead back out to 38-23 with 6:05 remaining after Twitty put in another layup. Over the final 2:31, High Point closed the half out on a 6-1 run, with UNCG sinking a free throw with :06 left in the half to lead 41-33 at the midway point.
After Soliman and Camryn Brown traded layups to start the third quarter, HPU forced four UNCG turnovers over the next 2:02 and tied it up at 43 all on an Emma Bockrath layup. A pair of Ajemba free throws and a fast break bucket from Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) put UNCG back out to four before a layup from Fier gave UNCG a 51-45 lead with 2:31 left in the quarter. Two jumpers and a pair of Brown free throws tied it up again at 51 with 1:38. The teams traded points down the stretch and went to the final quarter tied at 56.
After being tied at 59, the Panthers went on a 12-1 run to take its largest lead of the night flowing a Lindsey Edwards fast break layup with 5:14 remaining. The Spartans did their best to climb back into the game, but High Point continued to answer as the Panthers shot 73-percent from the field in the final quarter.
UNCG returns to action Sunday afternoon as it takes on Lees-MeRae at 2 in the final non-conference matchup of the season.