GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women’s basketball returns home after a weekend on the road to host the Samford Bulldogs at 7 p.m. inside Fleming Gymnasium Thursday night. The Spartans enter after a pair of close matchups last week at Furman and Wofford. UNCG split the trip after defeating Wofford in overtime last Saturday. Samford enters after taking the Southern Conference-leading Mercer Bears down to the wire in Macon, suffering a 48-45 loss.
There will be live stats and a video stream available for Thursday’s contest. Stats are available via uncgstats.com and the video stream will be on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app with Jason Patterson and Phil Cox on the call.
Samford leads the all-time series with UNCG, 14-6. Earlier this season UNCG dropped a 56-48 contest to the Bulldogs in Birmingham. Last season, the teams split the season series with each team winning on its home floor.
UNCG enters the contest at 11-15 and 5-6 in SoCon play. The Spartans are currently tied with Furman for fourth-place in the standings, with Furman holding the tiebreaker. Last time out, UNCG notched an 81-75 overtime victory in Spartanburg, South Carolina over the Wofford Terriers. Four Spartans scored in double figures, led by sophomore captain Te’ja Twitty’s (Rutherfordton, N.C./Rutherfordton-Spindale Central) 20-point effort. Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion) broke her single game Division I era school-record, grabbing 22 points and chipping in 19 points in the effort.
Sophomore guard Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) leads the Spartans offense with 14.5 points per game. Soliman stepped up her game in SoCon play, averaging 16.0 points per contest. In the last five games, Soliman has been even better, averaging 21.0 points per game, shooting 57-percent from the floor and 62-percent from 3-point range.
Ajemba is second on the team with 11.5 points per game. She averages a double-double as she pulls down 12.5 rebounds per game. She shoots 44-percent from the field and leads the SoCon in all individual rebounding categories. Along with setting a new Division I era school-record for rebounds in a game, Ajemba has set Division I era school-records for total rebounds (326), defensive rebounds (218) and is four offensive rebounds away from setting that record at 111.
Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) and Twitty each add quality minutes in their starting roles. Willey and Twitty average 9.6 and 9.5 points per game, respectively. Willey has swatted 19 shots on the season, while Twitty hauls down 6.2 rebounds per game.
Brandi Fier (South Beloit, Ill./Illinois Central CC) and Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) facilitate the offense. Fier averages 3.5 assists per game as she leads the team with 90 total assists. Pitchford has been consistent off the bench, dishing out 2.2 assists per game in just over 18 minutes per game.
In SoCon play, UNCG is third in the league, averaging 62.4 points per game. The Spartans have hit at 39-percent from the floor and have stepped up their game from 3-point land to 36-percent. UNCG has raised its 3-point percentage by nearly 7-percent.
Rebounding has been a focal point for UNCG in the Trina Patterson era. UNCG outrebounds its opponents by an average of 4.4 rebounds per game in conferece games, the best of any team in the league. Throughout this season, UNCG outrebounds its opponents by an average of 4.7 per game which has led to 321 second chance points, or 12.3 per game.
Samford enters as winners of two of its last three, but dropped a 48-45 contest to the SoCon-leading Mercer Bears. The Bulldogs are currently sitting in one spot behind the Spartans in the SoCon standings with a 4-6 SoCon record and 12-13 overall.
The Bulldogs average 58.6 points per game with Hannah Nichols leading the way. As a team, Samford shoots just below UNCG at 39-percent from the floor while allowing opponents to shoot at a 41-percent clip. From distance, Samford shoots at a 31-percent clip and allows opponents to hit at an equal 31-percent.
Nichols leads the Bulldogs with a 13.1 points per game average. The redshirt senior shoots at 41-percent from the floor and 35-percent from 3-point range. She also leads the Bulldogs with 7.0 rebounds per contest. Nichols also leads the Bulldogs with 41 made 3-pointers.
Olivia Crozier is second on the team with a 9.4 points per game average and grabs 5.4 rebounds per game. She shoots 56-percent from the field. As a team, the Bulldogs struggle on the glass, being outrebounded by a league-worst 6.2 rebounds per game.