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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – UNCG women’s basketball was held scoreless for the last three minutes of the game and lost to Samford 56-48 at Pete Hanna Arena on Saturday evening. The Spartans drop to 8-13, 2-4 while the Bulldogs improve to 10-10, 2-3.

Samford ended the game on an 8-0 run as UNCG missed seven field goal attempts and turned the ball over twice during the run. The Spartans went just 3-16 (18.8%) from the field, 0-4 from three and 2-4 (50.0%) at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

“Our team had struggles offensively in the second half,” said UNCG coach Trina Patterson. “I really think the youth on the team showed today on the road. We didn’t have a lot of energy, especially offensively. I thought we struggled to get the offense in flow and that affected our defensive intensity.

Mangela Ngandjui (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist) gave UNCG a 42-41 lead on the first possession of the fourth quarter with a layup off an offensive rebound. Samford took the lead back on a three-pointer, and the teams then traded baskets. Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) tied the game up at 48-48 with a pair of free throws with 3:25 remaining.

The Bulldogs took the lead for good with a layup with 2:18 left and iced the game by making all six three throw attempts afterwards.

“This was a key game for us and we let it slip away from us,” said Patterson. “We have to find the energy level it takes to win on the road. We’re not even halfway through the conference yet, and so when we get another shot on the road we have to focus to get the win.”

UNCG won the battle on the glass 32-26 with a 13-1 advantage in offensive rebounds but had only five more second chance points (8-3). The Spartans shot 32.7% (17-52) from the field, 16.7% (2-12) from three and 66.7% (12-18) at the charity strip. The Bulldogs were 50.0% (18-36) from the field, 36.4% (4-11) from three and 76.2% (16-21) from the line.

Samford took an early 7-4 lead three minutes into the game and maintained the lead to enter the second quarter up 14-12. The Bulldogs took advantage of the Spartans’ sluggish start by scoring six points off seven turnovers.

The Spartans’ offense woke up in the second quarter where they shot 54.5% (6-11) from the field. After Samford took an 18-13 lead, UNCG went on a 14-2 run. Brandi Fier (South Beloit, Ill./ Illinois Central) drove and made a layup, and Soliman regained the lead for the Spartans with a jumper and two free throws. Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) made a layup, Soliman got another layup and a three-pointer and Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) ended the run with a free throw for a 27-20 lead.

Twitty converted a three-point play on a layup and the Spartans went into halftime with a 30-24 lead.

“We got some turnovers through our press,” said Patterson. “Nadine was in an attack mode, and her penetration led to that nice lead for us.”

The offense went cold again in the third quarter as UNCG shot 29.4% (5-17) from the field and missed all four three-pointer attempts and the lone free throw shot. Samford took back the lead with a three-point play with seven seconds left and outscored UNCG 17-10 in the quarter. 

“The beginning of the third quarter I thought we came out a little flat,” said Patterson. “We gave up a quick amount of points and that got it rolling for them. We were right there on the edge in the second quarter and we just couldn’t carry it over.”

Soliman scored a game-high 15 points on 5-11 shooting from the field along with four rebounds. Twitty was the only other Spartan in double figures with 11 points (4-8 from the field) and had eight rebounds. Ajemba recorded her sixth-straight game with double-digit rebounds with 10 this game to go along with five points and a block, and Cece Crudup (Richmond, Va./Highland Springs) had seven points off the bench.

UNCG returns to action with another road game next Saturday against Western Carolina at 2:00 p.m.

-- UNCG --