GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women’s basketball hits the road again for a Southern Conference matchup with the Western Carolina Catamounts Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. The Spartans enter the contest at 8-13 and 2-4 in SoCon play. Western Carolina is currently 4-17 and 0-6 in league action and is coming off of its best offensive performance of the season Wednesday night, defeating Warren Wilson 114-54.
Live stats and a video stream will be available for Saturday’s matchup. Links for these services are located on the UNCG women’s basketball schedule page. Stats are courtesy of Western Carolina athletics and the video stream will be live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
The Spartans and Catamounts have competed 64 times with the Catamounts holding a 38-26 advantage. Last season, the teams split the two meetings with each winning on their home floor. The last time the Spartans won in Cullowhee was a 56-50 victory in the 2010-11 season.
UNCG is one of the top rebounding schools in the Southern Conference, outrebounding its opponents by an average of 4.8 per game. Leading the Spartans and the SoCon on the glass is senior center Ije Ajemba (Lanham, Md./Old Dominion). Ajemba averages a double-double, grabbing an average of 12.6 rebounds and 11.6 points per game. Her rebounds per game average ranks sixth national and her 264 total rebounds is the second most in the nation.
Nadine Soliman (Cairo, Egypt/Mokattam Language School) and Alexus Willey (Waldorf, Md./Riverdale Baptist) are the two other Spartans who average double figures. Soliman leads the team with 13.0 points per game average and grabbed a team-best 24 steals. She shoots 39-percent from the field and has hit 25 3-pointers on the season.
Willey has been UNCG’s best threat from 3-point range. The sophomore shoots 29-percent from 3-point range and grabs 3.9 rebounds per game. Earlier this season, Willey recorded her first double-double as she grabbed 12 rebounds against Lees-McRae in the final tune-up before SoCon play.
The Spartan offense features a pair of facilitators. Brandi Fier (South Beloit, Ill./Illinois Central) leads the team with 70 assists on the season and chips in 6.3 points per game. Alexis Pitchford (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) has dished out 42 assists, playing in all 21 games.
The Catamounts are currently 0-6 in Southern Conference play and Saturday’s game will round out the first half of the SoCon schedule.
The Catamount offense is last in the league averaging just 57.3 points per game and is outscored by an average of 6.1 points per game. Western Carolina’s defense is the best in the league as it limits opponents to shooting just 37-percent from the field and 25-percent from 3-point range. WCU is tough on the boards as it is just one of three SoCon schools that are positive in the rebounding margin at +0.8, trailing UNCG (+4.7) and Furman (+5.5). They also move the ball well, averaging 13.1 assists per game, ranking fourth in the league. Maintaining possession has been an issue, sitting at -6.48 in the turnover margin, turning the ball over 424 times. Opponents average 13.3 turnovers per game, while the Catamounts average 20.1 turnovers each game.
Sherae Bonner is the only Catamount to average double figures. The senior forward scores 10.2 points per game and leads the Catamounts with 8.8 rebounds per game. Her rebounds per game average is second in the SoCon, trailing just Ajemba in that category. She shoots 51-percent from the field and has dished out 23 assists on the season. Her 27 blocks also leads the team and her 1.5 blocks per game is the best in the SoCon.
Lauren LaPlant averages 8.6 points per game in 15 games. Judith Martin Ruiz leads the team with 44 assists. Nikki Johnson and JonTay Mitchem each have dished out 38 assists on the season. From distance, Tess Harris has been the top Catamount shooter, hitting 30 3-pointers.