Courtesy: Photo Courtesy of Tim Cowie

Women’s Hoops Dispatches Elon 73-62 For First SoCon Victory 01-04-2014

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG women’s basketball team out-scored local rival Elon 42-28 in the second half Saturday afternoon on the way to a 73-62 Southern Conference victory at Fleming Gymnasium.

The Spartans snap a six-game losing streak to improve to 5-9 overall and 1-2 in SoCon play while the Phoenix drop to 5-9 and 1-2 with their third-straight loss.  UNCG also defeated Elon for the first time since 2011, a span of four meetings.

“We won this game because everyone who came off of the bench contributed,” head coach Wendy Palmer said. “We had hit a rough stretch the last five or six games but we were progressing in practice nonetheless. It was nice to see the ladies’ hard work pay off today. Elon is a very good team and this is a great victory for us.”

The Blue and Gold hit 16 of 31 shots (51.6 percent) in the second period to end up at 43.1 percent (25-of-58) for the game. Elon shot the ball well, knocking down half of its attempts (28-of-56) from the field, but UNCG logged 15 offensive rebounds on the way to winning the battle on the boards 35-29. The Spartans also out-scored the visitors 19-10 on the fast break and neutralized a 40-28 advantage in the paint for the Phoenix by knocking down 19 of 23 from the free throw line (82.6 percent). Elon earned just five foul shots of which it drained three.

The Blue and Gold forced the Phoenix into 24 turnovers leading to 13 steals and 21 points off of the miscues. UNCG also shared the ball well recording 13 assists.

Sophomore guard Lucy Mason (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee Charter) led three Spartans in double figures offensively with a season-high 22 points while senior forward Janae’ Stevenson (Columbia, S.C./Eau Claire) and freshman guard Bailey Williams (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) chipped in with 19 and 13 respectively. Freshman forward Jade Scaife (Fort Washington, Md./Archbishop Spalding) was very active on the glass, pulling down a game-high nine rebounds of which four were on the offensive boards. Also doing some good things for UNCG was junior guard Jarae Savage (Marietta, Ga./North Cobb) who corralled seven rebounds (five offensive) and grabbed four steals.

The 13 points were a career high for Williams and the 22 scored by Mason marked the third time this season she has netted 20 or more points in a contest. Williams added five assists and two steals while Mason added three assists and two steals.

Elon looked to run away with the game early, scoring six quick points in the first 1:26 of the contest, but Stevenson netted four-straight points to pull UNCG back within two at the 17:19 mark. A triple by Williams afforded the Spartans their first lead of the contest, 11-10, with 14:24 remaining in the first half, but Shannen Cochraham answered with a bucket down low to swing the lead back to the Phoenix.

That advantage would not last long as Mason drilled a three-pointer off an assist from Williams to make the score 14-12 in favor of UNCG. Mason would then knock down two free throws to stretch the lead to 16-12 as the clock hit 12:13. The Spartans would stay ahead and eventually move six points clear of Elon at 22-16 as Savage grabbed an offensive rebound and found freshman guard Shanese Harris (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) for a layup with 7:50 to play in the stanza.

The Phoenix would fight back and tie the score at 26 on a three by Lenaira Ruffin before Cochraham scored on a layup to put Elon back in front with time ticking down. Kelsey Harris put in a layup off an offensive rebound to push the visitors’ lead to 34-30 with 2:08 on the clock and Mason would close the scoring with a free throw at the 1:54 mark to leave Elon with a 34-31 edge at the break.

Mason led all scorers with 12 points in the first 20 minutes while Cochraham paced the Phoenix with 10 points. Scaife pulled down a team-best six rebounds in the half as UNCG held a 19-13 advantage on the glass. Elon shot 55.2 percent (16-of-29) from the floor and limited the Spartans to 33.3 percent efficiency (9-of-27).

The Phoenix came out firing in the second half, building a 39-31 advantage behind Cochraham. UNCG refused to lay down, however, quickly knotting the score at 41 thanks to a 10-2 run fueled by good defense and scoring from four different players during the 10-2 run. Nicole Razor put Elon back in front 43-41 with 12:56 to go, but Stevenson hit two free throws on the Spartans’ next possession to create another deadlock. Senior guard Breonna Patterson (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) came up big at the 12:22 mark as Mason grabbed a defensive rebound and threw the ball to Williams who found an open Patterson in the corner for a three which forced the Phoenix to use a timeout.

UNCG held Elon off the scoreboard the next three minutes and was able to stretch its lead to 49-43 after a free throw by Mason. Ruffin would attempt to keep the Phoenix close as she scored five points to slice the Spartan advantage to 52-50 and Lauren Brown would complete the rally with two free throws to leave the score tied at 52 with 8:15 left to play.

Harris gave UNCG the lead back at 54-52 when she stole the ball and took it down the floor for a layup, but Harris knotted the proceedings again with a layup of her own at the 6:43 mark. On the Spartans’ very next possession, Stevenson looked to be in trouble with the shot clock winding down, but she put a nice move on the Elon defense and found the basket just as the clock expired to make it 56-54.

UNCG would score eight of the next 16 points to assume a 64-60 lead with 3:09 remaining. Out of a Phoenix timeout, Stevenson came up big - scoring a basket and drawing the fourth foul on Cochraham. Stevenson calmly drained the and-one free throw to make the score 67-60 with 2:44 showing on the clock. Elon had two cracks at the bucket on its next possession, but could not convert and Stevenson pulled down the defensive rebound. Savage then scored on the fast break to push the UNCG lead to an ultimately insurmountable nine points (69-60). The Spartans out-scored the Phoenix 4-2 in the final 2:20 to seal the 11-point victory.

UNCG returns to action a week from today (Jan. 11), traveling to Statesboro, Ga., for a Southern Conference game with Georgia Southern. Tipoff inside Hanner Fieldhouse is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. 

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