GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Furman Paladins hit a last second 3-pointer to dash UNCG women’s basketball’s chance at a victory inside Timmons Arena Saturday night. With six seconds on the clock, Furman inbounded and hit a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds to take a 55-54 lead. The Spartans called timeout to advance the ball and had a chance, but the last second heave couldn’t find the net.
With the 55-54 loss, UNCG falls to 10-15 and 4-6 in Southern Conference action. Furman improves to 14-11 and 4-6 in league play. The teams split the two regular season matchups with each team winning at home. Earlier this year, UNCG outlasted the Paladins with a 76-74 double overtime victory in Fleming Gym.
“That was a very hard-fought game.” Head coach Trina Patterson said, “It was back-and-forth, and we played with toughness and played hard, but we came up short. We gave up too clean of a look at the end. We made a couple key mistakes towards the end of the game. We have to make free throws and not give up points in transition. That led to their opportunity at the end. Just two more positive possessions for us would have helped get us the outcome we were hoping for.”
“Nadine (Soliman) played really well tonight.” Patterson continued, “We limited our turnovers and have really improved on taking care of the basketball throughout the season. On the road, we have to come away with the results we expect. We have to do a better job against teams we feel confident going up against. This one went down to the wire, but we weren’t able to finish it out. We have a quick turnaround to get us prepped for Wofford Saturday and we have to take care of business.”
Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) led the Spartan offense with 22 points and hit eight shots from the field. She grabbed three rebounds and tied for the team-lead with Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) with three assists.
UNCG held the edge in rebounding, outrebounding the Paladins by seven. Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion), Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) and Mangela Ngandjui (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist) each grabbed eight rebounds. Ajemba chipped in nine points and Twitty and Ngandjui each added four. Furman entered the night leading the SoCon with a +5.6 rebounds per game margin.
Both teams came out hot in the first quarter, combining to go 12-of-18 from the field in the first 5:09 with UNCG taking a 16-10 lead. Furman closed the quarter out on a 6-0 run, as Kaitlyn Duncan, Le’Jzae Davidson and Cierra Carter each scored for the Paladins in the next 2:06 to tie the game at 16. #Each team went scoreless over the final 1:45 of the quarter.
The Paladins gained the edge in the second quarter. After UNCG went up 21-16, Furman went on an 8-0 run with Carter and Celena Taborn scoring four points apiece to take the 24-21 lead. After Cece Crudup (Richmond, Va./Highland Springs) cut the lead to one, Davidson hit a pair of free throws to regain the Furman lead. Ngandjui cut it back to 26-25 with just over a minute left to play. Stephania Oramas and Davidson hit 3-pointers in the final minute to grab Furman’s largest lead of the night at 32-26 at the half.
The third quarter was a bit of a trouble spot for the Spartans at the start of the year, but Thursday night’s performance didn’t show that. UNCG outscored Furman 19-11 in the third quarter to head to the final frame up 45-43. During the third quarter, Soliman and Ajemba each tallied six points as Ajemba’s old-fashioned 3-point play with 3:14 remaining tied the game at 39.
Soliman gave UNCG a narrow lead following a Carter free throw, before Taborn hit one of two freebies to tie it at 41. On the final possession of the third quarter, Aneka Yelverton (Suffolk, Va./Naval Preparatory Academy) launched a 3-pointer that was off the mark, but followed her shot to grab the rebound for an easy layup at the rim to give UNCG a 45-43 lead.
The final 10 minutes was back and fourth as both offenses became stagnant. The teams combined to shoot 6-of-28 from the field in the final 10 minutes. UNCG hit just 2-of-4 free throws while Furman converted all four of its free throw opportunities in the final quarter.
Carter tied the game by hitting a pair of free throws and Furman took its largest lead of the quarter after an Oramas 3-pointer and another pair of Carter free throws. Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) hit a layup and two good free throws from Soliman brought the Spartans within one. On UNCG’s next possession, Soliman fed Ajemba down low to take a one-point lead before Soliman hit a 3-pointer with 2:00 remaining to take the lead at 54-50. UNCG had a chance to extend the lead, but failed to convert on a pair of free throws with 0:58 on the clock. After the second missed free throw, Furman got out in transition and Carter finished at the hoop to cut the lead to two.
Furman took its final possession with 0:22 on the clock. The Spartan defense played tough as a DeAnneisha Jackson layup was off the mark. Ajemba got tangled with Taborn on the attempted rebound, forcing a jump ball with the possession arrow pointing Furman’s way. With 0:06 remaining, Furman inbounded to Davidson who drilled a 3-pointer with 1.9 left on the clock. UNCG called its final two timeouts and advanced the ball. The Spartans had a shot at the buzzer, but Soliman’s attempt bounced off the rim as time expired.
UNCG is back in action Saturday at the Richardson Indoor Stadium as it takes on the Wofford Terriers at 2 p.m.