GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG women’s basketball team raced out to an early advantage Friday afternoon and did not look back, posting a 72-63 victory in its home opener at Fleming Gymnasium.
“I am very proud of this team today,” head coach Wendy Palmer said. “We have a lot to work on, especially rebounding and defense, but we will celebrate this win. In years past, we probably would not have fought through that tough stretch in the second half.”
The Spartans led wire-to-wire and led by as many as 15 in the second half before closing out the win at the foul line. A trio of UNCG players scored in double figures led by sophomore guard Lucy Mason (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee Charter) who netted 17 and hit six of her seven free throw attempts to go along with six assists. Senior forward Janae’ Stevenson (Columbia, S.C./Eau Claire) notched her first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds while senior guard Breonna Patterson (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) added 13 points and handed out three assists. Additionally, freshman forward Jade Scaife (Ft. Washington, Md./Archbishop Spalding) tallied nine points, nine rebounds and two steals.
UNCG out-shot the Bulldogs, .431-.397 and limited the visitors to just nine percent (1-for-11) from beyond the arc while knocking down six of their own 15 attempts. The Spartans also won the rebounding battle by one at 42-41 and recorded 20 assists on 25 made baskets. UNCG fired at a 54-percent clip in the first 20 minutes and drained five of six free throws in the period while also knocking down five of 10 from range.
It was all Spartans at the beginning as freshman guard Shanese Harris (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) took the opening tip and raced down the floor for a layup. UNCG quickly extended its lead to 8-0 in the first two minutes and forced the Bulldogs to take a timeout. A layup by DayShaun Richbow cut the Spartan lead to 8-4 before a pair of three pointers by Patterson capped an 11-0 run which put UNCG in front by 15 with 14:31 left on the clock.
South Carolina State cut its deficit under 10 points a couple of times, but a layup and free throw by Mason pushed the lead back to 13 as the clock ticked under eight minutes. Another triple by Patterson helped the Spartans maintain that advantage into the half as UNCG took a 40-27 lead into the locker room.
Mason netted 14 points in the first 20 minutes while Patterson added 11. Scaife paced the rebounding efforts with four boards and three players were credited with three assists apiece. Richbow was the high scorer for the Bulldogs in the period with seven points.
The teams traded buckets as the second stanza commenced and a layup by Stevenson with 15:55 remaining in the contest kept UNCG’s cushion at 48-35. The Spartans took their biggest lead of the half after a layup by sophomore guard Jazmine Missouri (Kensington, Md./Academy of the Holy Cross) made it 53-39 at the 12:57 mark. However, South Carolina State began to rally – taking advantage of some costly UNCG turnovers.
A layup by Cabriel Duran had the Bulldogs all the way back to within five at 57-52 as 6:17 remained in the game. The Spartans built the lead back to nine on two occasions before a layup by Persephone Goodwin made it a five-point affair once more, 63-58, with 3:36 left. It was a freshman who came up big for the Blue and Gold on the next possession, as guard Bailey Williams (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) stepped back and nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Spartans a 66-58 lead. The Bulldogs would not come any closer than seven the rest of the way.
UNCG heads back on the road for its next contest, traveling to Norfolk, Va., for a non-conference game with Norfolk State. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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