GREENSBORO, N.C. –UNCG women’s basketball, along with the Spartan Club, hosted the year-end banquet Friday night at the Starmount Forest Country Club. The event featured a dinner, annual awards and took time to commemorate another successful year of women’s basketball at UNCG. The event opened with a greeting from local news anchor Caroline Blair Anderson, an alumni of the women’s basketball program, graduating in 2006. After dinner, the awards presentations began.
The 2017-18 women’s basketball season ended with an impressive showing in the Southern Conference Tournament semifinals. The Spartans upset the third-seeded Chattanooga Mocs in the quarterfinals, marking the first time in 18 years that the Spartans defeated Chattanooga in back-to-back seasons. UNCG came up just short in the semifinals falling to the second-seeded ETSU Bucs by just two points.
Assistant coach Cait Wetmore announced the first award of the evening, UNCG’s Offensive Player of the Year. Sophomore Nadine Soliman took home the award after leading UNCG with 13.5 points per game. Soliman scored in double figures in 23 games and scored an average of 14.7 points per game against Southern Conference opponents. She dished out multiple assists in 11 games and shot 43.1 percent from 3-point range in SoCon play. She set a new career best with 33 points in the victory over Western Carolina January 27th where she shot 7-of-7 from 3-point range. That performance tied a school record for most made 3-pointers in a game, held by herself and Mickey Haywood from the 1993 season.
Assistant coach Phil Collins presented the Defensive Player of the Year award. UNCG’s lone senior, Ije Ajemba, took home this year’s award. Ajemba set a new single season record by grabbing 260 defensive rebounds, averaging 8.4 per game and ranking sixth in the nation. She swatted 32 opponent shots to lead the Spartans and rank seventh in the SoCon. She also grabbed 27 steals on the year, third most on the team.
The next award was presented by assistant coach Asia Williams. Williams presented UNCG’s Most Improved Player award to sophomore guard Alexus Willey. Willey started 25 games this season, playing in 28 total. Willey doubled her points per game average to 9.8 this season. She hit five more 3-pointers than the year before as her game evolved to be more than just a long distance shooter. She finished second on the team with 22 blocked shots and grabbed 17 steals throughout the year.
Coach Patterson presented the next two awards, starting with the team’s Most Outstanding Player award. This year’s award went to Ajemba. Ajemba finished the 2017-18 season averaging a double-double with 12.0 points per game and grabbing 12.3 rebounds per game. Ajemba set new school records in a single season for offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, total rebounds and a new Division I era single game record of 22 rebounds. She set a new school record with 17 double doubles on the season, shattering the previous school record of nine.
The final award of the evening went to 2017-18 team captain Alexis Pitchford. Pitchford earned this season’s Lynne Agee Coaches Award, going to the player who set an example for their exemplary work ethic throughout the season. Pitchford played in all 31 games this season, starting 14. She was second on the team with 59 assists and scored an average of 2.6 points per game.