CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – UNCG women’s basketball committed a season-low 11 fouls, but could not overcome Virginia’s big second quarter, falling 68-50 in the John Paul Jones Arena. No Spartan committed more than three fouls during the contest as the Spartans played their cleanest defensive game since in the Trina Patterson era. UNCG falls to 4-4 on the season, while Virginia improves to 4-5.
“I really thought we took some steps forward tonight.” Head coach Trina Patterson said, “We showed some toughness tonight. I’m really proud of our effort, forcing 20 turnovers is pretty special and we finished with less turnovers than they did. Knowing that Virginia lost to a ranked Maryland team two days ago in this same facility, gives us a clear vision of who we can be.”
“I liked Nadine (Soliman)’s approach today.” Patterson continued, “I thought we played really aggressive. We were able to stick to the game plan. Virginia shot the ball really well today and we competed on the boards. Playing this level of competition is only going to make us better.”
Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) led the Spartan offense with 15 points and she pulled down four rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) scored eight points and led the team with six rebounds.
Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) and Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) each added seven points and three boards. Brandi Fier (South Beloit, Ill./Illinois Central) added two points and led the team with two assists.
UNCG used the three-point shot to its advantage in the first quarter. The Spartans hit four from distance, including a pair form Soliman. Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) hit a three pointer to tie it up at 14. Over the final minute, Virginia scored four points, with J’Kyra Brown hitting one of two free throws before Jocelyn Willoughby hit a three-pointer to go up 18-14.
The Cavaliers extended their lead in the second quarter, going on an 11-0 run with 4:09 remaining. Aliyah Huland El hit a jumper and a pair from distance to go up 35-19 with 1:28 remaining. Pitchford used some creative dribbling to create space and hit a jumper to end the drought as UNCG scored four points in the final minute to head into halftime trailing 37-23.
UNCG kept pace with the Cavaliers in the third quarter, with both teams scoring 13 points. Ajemba brought the Spartans within nine points twice, including hitting a pair of free throws with 1:23 left before Virginia scored five points over the last 1:06 to extend the lead back to 14.
The Spartans were able to score 14 points over the final ten minutes and got to the free throw line eight times. UNCG moved the ball well, earning three assists on four made field goals in the final quarter. The Blue and Gold cut the lead down to 12 following a Mangela Ngandjui (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist), but could come no closer down the stretch.
UNCG is back in action next Thursday, December 7th at Cameron Indoor Stadium as it will matchup with another ACC opponent, the Duke Blue Devils at 7 p.m.