GREENSBORO, N.C. – Senior center Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) set a school record with 21 rebounds in UNCG’s 66-51 victory over Wofford Thursday night. She and Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) led the Spartans with 17 points each as the Spartans limited Wofford to shooting just 32-percent from the floor. The defense locked down in crunch time, holding Wofford to 12-percent from the floor in the final quarter. Ajemba also tied the season double-doubles record in the Division I era, as her 17 points and 21 rebounds were good for her ninth of the season.
“The thing that I’m really pleased with today is the resiliency that we showed.” Head coach Trina Patterson said, “We never gave up, even though they made a run. That might not have happened maybe two weeks ago, that shows the kind of growth this team has had and I’m seeing more maturity in our team.”
“Tonight we played a little faster, we moved the ball well.” Patterson continued, “It didn’t stick in people’s hands and that’s something we were focusing on. We were also able to re-implement some of our press to try to get more possessions, pace is very important to us. We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, but you wouldn’t have known it by the way we rebounded. Ije (Ajemba) did a great job tonight. She went after it with a lot of effort and played really well tonight. We had really good effort from everyone on the floor. The bench was outstanding today. Mangela (Ngandjui) deserves a lot of credit. Aneka (Yelverton) shot the ball really well tonight and both played really solid minutes tonight.”
With the win, the Spartans improve to 7-11 and 1-2 Southern Conference play. Wofford falls to 7-10 overall and 1-2 in SoCon play. Soliman had a big night as well. The sophomore guard was 5-of-7 from 3-point range. She grabbed a career-high eight rebounds and dished out a career-best six assists.
Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) recorded her second double-double of the season, chipping in 10 points and went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. The sophomore captain grabbed 12 rebounds and seven offensive boards. Aneka Yelverton (Suffolk, Va./Naval Preparatory Academy) also had a career night, scoring 13 points and hit three 3-pointers in the win.
UNCG dominated on the glass, as it out rebounded the Terriers 57-31 and grabbed 26 offensive rebounds. The Spartans shot just 21-of-68 but hit eight 3-pointers in the win.
The Spartans got out of the gate fast, going up by seven points as Soliman went 3-of-3 from behind the arc in the first five minutes of play. Wofford countered and brought the score to 12-11 on a Da’ja Green 3-pointer before UNCG closed the quarter out on a 7-2 run with Yelverton capping it with a jumper with 0:16 left.
Another Soliman 3-pointer gave UNCG its largest lead of the first half at 32-19 with 2:35 remaining in the second quarter. Wofford hit a pair of layups in the final 2:16 cutting the lead down to 32-23. The third quarter saw UNCG get out to a 42-27 lead, but Wofford took advantage of a smaller UNCG lineup and cut the lead down to one after a Jamie Grob fast break layup. In the third quarter, Wofford crawled back into the game scoring eight fast break points and the Wofford bench outscored the Spartans 16-2.
The Blue and Gold buckled down over the final 10 minutes as Wofford could only hit two shots from the floor and only was 2-of-4 from the free throw line. UNCG upped its shooting percentage in the final quarter as Yelverton hit three 3-pointers to secure the victory. After a Cairo Booker layup cut the lead to 54-49, the Spartans went on a 9-0 with Yelverton hitting a pair of 3-pointers. Booker hit a pair of free throws to trim it down to 65-51, but Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) hit one of two free throws with 0:21 to give the Spartans the 66-51 win.
UNCG is back in action Saturday as it hosts the Furman Paladins at 4 p.m. in Fleming Gymnasium.