CONWAY, S.C. – Newcomer Brandi Fier (South Beloit, Ill./Illinois Central) made the most of her first career start in the Blue and Gold Tuesday night. Fier scored 18 points and tallied nine assists as the Spartans defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 60-54 at the HTC Center. UNCG improves to 3-0 on the young season as Coastal Carolina falls to 1-1.
“I thought that Brandi Fier played an outstanding game tonight.” Head coach Trina Patterson said, “Ije Ajemba was solid with a double-double. We were able to win on the road, earlier we talked about some of the things you need to do to be successful on the road. You have to pay attention to detail, and I thought we did that well tonight.”
“I thought we did a much better job handling pressure tonight, especially at the point guard position, we were able to get in the lane and score.” Patterson continued, “Brandi’s 18 points and nine assists, and the person she was getting the ball to, many times was Alexus Willey who was able to hit her three’s. Today shows that we have different people that can score. Nadine (Soliman) didn’t really get into her flow offensively, but other people stepped up. That gives me a lot of encouragement that we have other people who can step up for us.”
Along with Fier, UNCG had four player score in double figures. Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) added 14 points, and went 4-for-9 from three-point range. Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) recorded her second double-double, going for 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Sophomore Te’ja Twitty (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) scored 10 points to go with five rebounds.
The Spartans jumped out to an 8-4 lead following back-to-back buckets from Fier and Twitty. Coastal cut the lead down to two after a Mery Visone jumper, but Ajemba sunk a pair of free throws to extend the lead back to four. A Jamie Williams jumper cut the Spartan lead back to two at the break.
Over the first five minutes of the second quarter, UNCG used a 12-2 run to take its largest lead of the first half at 24-12. Willey was three-for-three in the run, including hitting a pair of three-pointers. Coastal Carolina made a push at the end of the second quarter, going on an 11-1 run of its own to trim the Spartans’ lead down to 27-23. Jas Adams hit two from distance, Alise Davis added a bucket in the paint before Williams sunk three free throws in the final minute to cut into the UNCG lead.
Both teams came out fast in the third quarter before fizzling out. Coastal Carolina came out of halftime with Adams hitting a three-pointer to cut the Spartan lead to one. After exchanging baskets, UNCG extended its lead with back-to-back layups from Twitty. After Fier competed an old-fashioned three-point play, the Chanticleers went on a 6-0 run, going four-for-four from the free throw line to tie the game up at 38. Both teams went scoreless over the final 3:06 of the quarter.
Coastal Carolina took its first lead of the game three minutes into the final quarter after Williams hit a three-pointer pull CCU up 41-40. UNCG responded with a 7-0 run to take and extend its lead to 47-41. Coastal cut the lead to one before Willey sank another clutch three-pointer to go back up by four. The Chanticleers cut the lead down to two before an Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) layup gave the Spartans back their four-point lead. Coastal could come no closer down the stretch as Pitchford sank three free throws late to help preserve UNCG’s third win of the season.
UNCG is back in action Saturday as it heads to Richmond, Ky. for a matchup with the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at 6 p.m.