GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG women’s basketball team had six players score in double figures Saturday as the Spartans downed Francis Marion 77-56 in exhibition action inside Fleming Gymnasium.
“I was pleased that we turned up the intensity in the second half and played with more enthusiasm,” head coach Wendy Palmer said. We were missing that last year so it is refreshing to see. We have a lot of work still left to do, needing to focus on transition defense and our defensive principles.”
The UNCG defense swarmed the Patriots, forcing 34 turnovers and recording 17 steals. The Spartans also rallied from a five-point halftime deficit by shooting 60 percent (15-for-25) from the field in the second half to finish at 43 percent for the game. In terms of free throw shooting, UNCG went to the line 29 times and knocked down 21 of the attempts for a 72-percent performance. Francis Marion had the best of the rebounding 41-33, including a 12-9 edge on the offensive glass.
The Blue and Gold turned those 34 turnovers into 40 points while also out-scoring FMU 28-12 in the paint. The Patriots scored more bench points (26-22) and racked up nine second-chance points as compared to seven for UNCG.
Senior guard Breonna Patterson (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) paced the Spartan offense with 13 points while also handing out a team-high three assists. Freshman guard Bailey Williams (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) was able to fill up the stat sheet to the tune of 10 points, a squad-best six rebounds, four steals and two assists. Also putting up a solid performance was junior guard Jarae Savage (Marietta, Ga./North Cobb) who notched 11 points, six steals and four rebounds. She was also 7-for-9 from the charity stripe.
Another three Spartans tallied double digits offensively as sophomore guard Lucy Mason (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee Charter), freshman forward Jade Scaife (Ft. Washington, Md./Archbishop Spalding) and senior forward Janae’ Stevenson (Columbia, S.C./Eau Claire) recorded 11, 11 and 10 points respectively. Scaife also knocked down five of her six free throw attempts while also pulling down a team-high three offensive rebounds.
Stevenson gave the Spartans a 2-0 lead with 18:42 on the clock before Kim Roach scored four quick points to give the visitors the lead. Patterson tied it at four with a layup, but Cy’erra Mills knocked down a three to afford her team the lead once more. After a pair of free throws at the 13:50 mark made the score 11-6 in favor of FMU, junior guard Jessica Collins (Raleigh, N.C./Eckerd College) drained a triple to cut the Patriot cushion to two points at 11-9.
UNCG was unable to score for the next five minutes and Francis Marion took advantage, scoring seven-straight points to push ahead 18-9. The Spartans attempted to rally, but the Patriots had the answer each time and took their largest lead of the contest when two free throws by Mills made the score 24-13 with 6:07 remaining in the half.
The Blue and Gold reawakened over the next two minutes, using an 11-2 run – capped off by a Williams steal and fast-break jumper – to draw within 26-24 with 4:06 showing on the clock. A couple of free throws by Savage sliced the FMU lead to one at 32-31 at the 1:09 mark, but a jumped by Chelsea Dukes and a pair of free throws by Alexia Bell proved to be the final points of the period as the Patriots took a 36-31 edge into the break.
Patterson led UNCG with 10 points in the first 20 minutes while Williams pulled down five rebounds. Mills paced Francis Marion with 11 points as the Patriots shot 39 percent from the field and limited the Spartans to 31 percent. FMU also had an 18-6 advantage in free throw attempts.
The teams traded layups to keep the Patriot lead at five as the second half begun. A three-pointer by Dee Gray extended the FMU advantage to 41-33, but two free throws by Collins capped an 8-0 run to knot the score for the first time since the opening minutes of the contest.
An offensive foul by Briana Robinson led to a layup for Patterson that put UNCG in front 43-41 with 14:09 to play. The Spartans would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the contest. A fast-break layup by Collins at the 11:48 mark made the score 51-43 and FMU would come no closer than six the rest of the way. A pair of free throws by Mason pushed the Spartan advantage to double figures at 59-49 as that lead grew to 15 points before the Patriots could score again. Mills drained two foul shots to make the score 64-51 with 4:54 remaining in the game before Scaife pushed the margin over 20 with two free throws with 48 seconds left. She was able to hit another pair of charity tosses with two seconds on the clock to provide the final margin.
UNCG opens the regular season Friday, Nov. 8, with a contest against Atlantic Coast Conference member Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. Tipoff inside the Donald L. Tucker Center is slated for 5 p.m. and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.