GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG women’s basketball team jumped all over Georgia Southern to start Monday night’s Southern Conference contest at Fleming Gymnasium and never surrendered the lead as the Spartans recorded a 76-65 victory. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak overall and a four-game skid to the Eagles.
UNCG (6-17, 2-10 SoCon) shot the ball well in the contest, finishing with a season second-best 51.7 percent efficiency in knocking down 30 of 58 attempts from the field, while also limiting Georgia Southern to 38.2 percent overall (26 of 68). The Spartans did most of their damage down low, out-scoring the Eagles 40-36 in the paint. The Blue and Gold also got out in transition, recording 21 fast-break points. Despite hitting just 12 of 31 attempts from the free throw line, UNCG made up for it with its performance from the field. Georgia Southern owned the final rebounding advantage to the tune of 45-40.
Freshman guard Shanese Harris (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) netted a career high offensively for the second-straight game, pouring in 15 points as one of four Spartans to tally double figures. Sophomore guard Lucy Mason (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee Charter) paced the team with 18 points while freshman guard Bailey Williams (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) and senior forward Janae' Stevenson (Columbia, S.C./Eau Claire) chipped in with 12 each. Stevenson also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds – a total which included three offensive boards. For the Eagles, Anna Claire Knight led the way with 22 points and nine rebounds.
The Blue and Gold recorded an assist on more than half of its made baskets, racking up a season second-best 18 helpers of which Mason and Williams tallied five each. UNCG also forced 17 GSU turnovers, scoring 20 points off those miscues, while committing just 13 as a team.
Mason provided the game’s first points via a fast-break layup at the 18:51 mark and would score the first seven points for the Spartans. UNCG held a 10-2 advantage after a Williams triple with 16:29 on the clock and would keep the clamps down on defense, extending the lead to 23-6 when Harris put in a layup at 9:47.
The home side would not let the cushion slide under double figures for much of the remainder of the period. However, with the Blue and Gold leading 37-22 after a Harris three-pointer with 2:06 to play, the Eagles closed the stanza on an 8-0 run to slice their deficit to 37-30 heading into the break.
Knight led all scorers with 11 points in the first 20 minutes while Harris netted nine for UNCG. The Spartans were on fire from the field in the half, hitting 15 of 26 to shoot 57.7 percent. In terms of the rebounding battle, Georgia Southern posted 11 offensive boards as a part of a 23-15 advantage.
UNCG came out with purpose in the second half, netting eight of the first 10 points to lead 45-32 at the 18:14 mark. The Eagles were able to cut into the advantage as the second half wore on, going on a 7-0 run that was capped by a Knight jumper to leave the score at 45-39 with 13:58 to play.
Williams would put a stop to the run at the 12:30 mark, hitting a three to push the Spartan lead back to nine. Georgia Southern put forth another rally, this time pulling all the way to within 51-47 after two free throws by Knight with 8:51 remaining. The Blue and Gold absorbed the run successfully though and scored the next six to push ahead 57-47 and force a timeout from the visitor bench at the 7:18 mark.
A jumper by Mason saw the Spartans lead by as much as 13 at 64-51 with 5:42 to play in the contest, but UNCG had to survive one last Georgia Southern rally. Angel McGown would hit a three-point field goal at 3:16 to pull the Eagles within five, 66-61. However, that was as close as GSU would come the rest of the way as the Spartans out-scored their guests 10-4 in the final minutes to seal the victory.
UNCG will travel to the North Carolina mountains this weekend for a pair of league contests, beginning Saturday (Feb. 15) at Appalachian State in Boone. The contest is scheduled for broadcast on ESPN3 and will tip at 1:30 p.m.
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