Ajemba's Big Day Fuels Women's Basketball to Victory at Presbyterian
CLINTON, S.C. – UNCG women’s basketball snapped it seven-game losing skid Thursday afternoon, defeating the Presbyterian Blue Hose, 64-57. Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) scored a career-high 22 points and hauled down a season-best 18 rebounds in the win. The 18 rebounds ranks third all-time in the Division I era for a single game performance, one behind the record set by Julie and Alisa Moore in 1994 and 1996, respectively.
“Defensively I thought we did a great job of taking away what they like to do.” Trina Patterson said, “We took away the backdoor cuts, the 3-point shots and we played aggressive. We took away their leading scorer in Cortney Storey. She is a very talented player and we didn’t allow her to do what she wanted. I credit Alexis Pitchford and Brandi Fier for playing so tough defensively against her.”
“Our energy was a lot better today.” Patterson continued, “Ije (Ajemba) was tremendous today. Our post play was really good. Te’ja Twitty and Mangela Ngandjui were solid and we took advantage of our size. Our guards did a good job of making those entry passes. It was a total team effort and this was an important win for us. Being on the road, we haven’t won since the Coastal Carolina game so it was important that we got the right result. We played as a team and we’ll use this as a stepping stone moving forward.”
The Spartans (5-8) shot at a .48.2 percent clip during the contest and closed the game out by shooting 58-percent from the field in the final quarter. To go with Ajemba’s 22 points, Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) added 13 points and was 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) chipped in 11 points. UNCG outrebounded PC 40-25 in the contest and hauled down 30 defensive rebounds.
The Spartans dominated the paint, outscoring the Blue Hose 46-16. Presbyterian’s (2-8) Cortney Storey tallied 18 points, shooting 6-of-13 from the field to lead her team. Ericka Blackwell-Boyden added 15 points, shooting 7-of-10 from the field.
UNCG started the game in the paint, scoring its first 12 points on layups. Ajemba found her way to the rim three times as she scored six of the first 12. UNCG led 12-9 with 3:56 remaining before a Blackwell-Boyden jumper cut the lead to 12-11. Alexus Willey hit from deep to put UNCG back up 15-11 and Ajemba finished off an old-fashioned 3-point play with 0:55 left in the first quarter to go up 18-12. Presbyterian cut into the lead after Macee Tamminen hit a 3-pointer and Storey finished at the rim as time expired to cut the Spartan lead to 18-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Presbyterian opened the second quarter with another Storey layup to go up 19-18 before Willey ignited a 14-2 run over the next 3:31 to extend its lead to 32-21. Ajemba, Twitty, Mangela Ngandjui (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist) and Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) all scored in the run. UNCG led 34-23 with 2:30 remaining after Willey got to the rim, but Storey finished off the half by converting a 3-point play and UNCG went to the half up 34-26.
Presbyterian outscored UNCG 31-30 over the final 20 minutes of action but the Spartan lead was too much for the Blue Hose. The Spartans were up by as many as 16 with 1:51 remaining in the fourth quarter after another Ajemba layup, but Presbyterian hit three 3-pointers in the final 0:15 to trim the lead down to seven.
The Spartans return to the court December 28th as they will host another Big South opponent in triad-rival High Point at 7 p.m. in Fleming Gym.