BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Te’ja Twitty notched her seventh double-double (14 points / 14 rebounds) of the season and teammate Nadine Soliman added 19 points and three assists, but it was 14 points by Samford’s Ta’Naisha Hill that proved to be the difference down the stretch as the Bulldogs earned a 57-53 victory at the Pete Hanna Center on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Twitty capped off her first double-double performance since East Tennessee State (Jan. 31) by hitting 5-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-9 at the free throw line. She controlled the paint for the Spartans (9-17, 3-8 SoCon) with 10 defensive rebounds and four offensive boards. UNC Greensboro put on a dominating performance on the glass throughout the game, closing with a 34-32 in total rebounds and a 16-11 advantage in second-chance points.
Soliman also topped double figures for the Spartans, leading the team in scoring with 19 points. She tallied eight points in the third quarter alone and was 7-of-15 from the floor in the contest. The junior shooting guard knocked down 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and was 1-of-3 at the free throw line.
Aja Boyd also put together a solid performance with six points, hitting 3-of-7 from the field, and six rebounds (five defensive). Amesha Miller came off the bench to score five points and haul in two rebounds for UNC Greensboro.
“Te’Ja did a really good job of establishing a post game for us tonight,” said head coach Trina Patterson. “We managed to capitalize on our size. They always had four guards on the floor and we were able to punch it in to her and for the most part she did a pretty good job. They were double teaming us and we were able to make passes out of that. Alexis Pitchford moved the ball more importantly she was able to move without the ball really well. We needed to do a better job of moving the ball and moving bodies because we got stagnant on offense, but we did manage to see a steady incline on the offensive side of the floor with better shooting percentages in each quarter. They made too many 3-pointers tonight (seven), which is a huge difference, and our missed free throws was also a big difference.”
UNCG held a one-point advantage, 39-38, through three quarters of play before a jumper by Alexis Pitchford at the 9:04 mark of the fourth provided the Spartans with a three-point cushion. Just over three minutes later, with the game knotted at 41, Alexus Willey connected on a 3-pointer from the left elbow to again provide Spartans with the lead.
Hill took over the Samford offense from there, singlehandedly scoring the next 10 points, while the Bulldog defense allowed buckets by Soliman and Pitchford, resulting in a 51-48 Samford lead.
Hill teamed with Natalie Armstrong to stretch the lead to five, 54-49, but a series of layups by Soliman and Twitty pulled UNCG back within one with 14 seconds remaining. Samford used a series of free throws by Hill and Makalia Woolard to making for the four-point victory.
After a choppy shooting first half for both teams, which resulted in a 26-25 Samford lead, UNCG managed to hit 6-of-14 (42.9%) from the floor and 2-for-3 (66.7%) from beyond the arc in the third to take a 39-38 lead.
Samford capitalized on a jumper by Armstrong to open third quarter scoring, but Soliman scored five of the next nine points for the Spartans to highlight an 8-0 run as the Spartans moved in front 34-28. Timely buckets by Boyd and Soliman allowed UNCG to maintain the six-point edge, 39-33, before a trey by Cassidy Williams and a jumper by Hill sliced the margin to one.
The Spartans now head to Western Carolina for their final road contest of the season, on Feb. 23, before hosting Chattanooga (Feb. 28) and ETSU (March 2) to close out the regular season.