GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women’s basketball dropped its second game of the Southern Conference season to the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers 60-52 Saturday afternoon in Brooks Gymnasium. With the loss, UNCG falls to 6-11 and 0-2 to begin Southern Conference Play. ETSU improves to 9-8 and 2-0 in the SoCon.
“As a team, we’re competing but we haven’t been able to come up with the wins yet.” Head coach Trina Patterson said, “It’s a little disheartening because every competitive person wants to win, but we did some good things today. Our bench showed some quality minutes. I was really pleased with the play of Aneka (Yelverton) who added some scoring off the bench. In the last game, we didn’t have any bench points or rebounds. I thought our bench players made an effort on the boards and to score today. Cece (Crudup) and Mangela (Ngandjui) played some quality minutes.”
“I thought we addressed the third quarter.” Patterson continued, “We knew that our energy level needed to be up in the third quarter and I was happy with how we started it. We did a good job shutting down some of their key players. (Tianna) Tarter, a first team all-SoCon player, we held her to 10 points and we played our three defense. That’s something new, we haven’t played that defense two games in a row and we’ve kept teams under 40-percent shooting. That’s encouraging, but we need to improve the offensive side of the floor. On the road, we’re still trying to get ourselves in position to win these big conference road games and we’ll get there.”
Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) led the Spartans with 12 points and dished out two assists.
The Spartan post players played tough as both Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) and Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) tallied nine points. Ajemba grabbed 14 boards and Twitty pulled down nine of her own.
Aneka Yelverton (Suffolk, Va./Naval Preparatory Academy) added eight points off the bench, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and grabbed a rebound. Twitty and Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) each dished out three assists and Pitchford added five points.
UNCG got off to a quick start, going up 7-2 just 1:26 into the game. The Bucs countered and went on a 16-0 run to take an 18-8 lead with 1:12 left in the quarter. Soliman hit one-of-two free throws before a Yelverton 3-pointer cut the lead down to seven. After an ETSU layup, Soliman hit a pair of free throws with 0:02 left on the clock to hold the Buc lead to 20-13.
The Spartan defense responded in the second quarter, holding ETSU without a field goal over the final 6:39 to mount a comeback. Five quick Spartan points started the quarter to cut the lead to 20-18 after Yelverton hit another 3-pointer and Twitty put back a missed shot for two of UNCG’s 10 second chance points. ETSU took advantage of some UNCG fouls, hitting six-of-six from the free throw line down the stretch. With 1:52 remaining, the Spartans closed the quarter out on a 7-0 run with Pitchford hitting a jumper as time expired to cut the ETSU lead to 32-30.
UNCG came out fast after halftime, taking its first lead since the first quarter on an Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) fast break layup. After ETSU’s Brittany Snowden and Ajemba traded points in the paint, ETSU’s Shy Copney hit a three point to go up 37-35. Twitty tied the game up before Raven Dean and Yelverton traded shots to keep it tied 39-39 with 2:50 remaining. ETSU closed the final minute out scoring four points to take a 45-41 lead into the final quarter.
Two Ajemba free throws started the fourth quarter scoring, but a quick 7-0 run put the Bucs up 52-43 with 6:24 remaining. The Spartans cut the lead down to 55-49 after a fast break basket from Twitty, but could come no closer down the stretch.
The Spartans return to the court Thursday as they host the Wofford Terriers at 7 p.m. in Fleming Gym.