UNCG advances with victory over Georgia Southern
CHARLESTON, SC – KaLeah Latham scored 17 points to lead UNC Greensboro to a 68-56 victory over Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference women’s basketball Tournament Friday evening at McAlister Field House on the campus of The Citadel.
The victory marks the first for the Spartans in the SoCon Tournament since the 2002 season. No player on the roster had come up on the winning end of a postseason game until Friday night.
UNCG will take on the No. 3 seed Davidson, who downed No. 6 seed Elon in another quarterfinal game. The Spartans will take on the Wildcats on Saturday night at 8:30 pm at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Latham, the junior out of Athens, TN, scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds to fuel second-seeded UNCG (17-11). Sophomore guard Kemena Brooks came off the bench to score 14 points on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc, while junior forward Irene Otamiri scored 10 points for the Spartans.
Ashley Melson paced No. 7 seed Georgia Southern (11-18) with 16 points. Nicole Newton had 12 points, while Ashley Rivens and Lee Dubose scored 11 and 10 points respectively.
The Spartans rode the efforts of sophomore center Meghan Chamberlain in the opening minutes of the second half. The Lake Mary, FL native scored five straight UNCG points to begin the half and Latham added three more buckets to give the Spartans a 45-32 lead at the 12:24 mark.
UNCG extended its lead to as much as 20, 58-48, on a Latham layup with 7:35 remaining. The Lady Eagles would put together a 10-0 run to get back in it, but Chamberlain struck again for another bucket, Otamiri made two free throws and Brooks made another from the charity stripe to send UNCG on its way to victory.
The win was also sweet for the Spartans in the fact that Georgia Southern bounced UNCG from last season’s tournament, 55-48. The Spartans improve to 3-1 against the Lady Eagles in SoCon tournament play.
“Overall I thought it was a great team effort with a solid defensive effort,” Agee said. “I felt like we came out with good energy and started the game strong. We were pretty balanced with a couple in double figures and spread out the rest of the way.”
Latham and Otamiri gave UNCG an early 9-2 lead, forcing GSU to call at timeout at the 17:24 mark of the first half. Latham, the Athens, TN native, opening the game with a layup and then moments later drained a 3-pointer. Otamiri then drilled two straight jumpers, with the second forcing the Lady Eagles into a timeout.
Lee Fallon rolled off 10 straight points to bring Georgia Southern to within one point, 15-14, at the 13:50 mark. The Spartans, however, did not relinquish their lead and would go back up 19-14 on a Kemena Brooks’s trey at the 10:09 mark.
The Lady Eagles offense then went absence, going 6:46 between field goals. During that time, the Spartans took their largest lead of the half on a layup by Boone, making it a 28-20 affair with 3:33 to go.
Ashley Rivens’ 3-ball capped seven straight points by Georgia Southern to get the Lady Eagles to within one, 28-27, with less than a minute left in the half, but Boone’s conventional three-point play and an Ashley Current free throw gave UNCG a 32-27 advantage at the break.
The shorter UNCG lineup held a decisive 49-39 rebounding advantage. The Spartans pulled away midway through the second half by shooting 51.9 percent (14-of-27) in the second 20 minutes of the game.
“We knew playing Georgia Southern that we would have to put together a good 40 minute game,” said Latham. “We had to come out and play hard, play a hard 40 minutes to secure a win.”
Agee added, “It was a very physical contest. We always compete hard with Georgia Southern. They are a difficult team to play because they are very strong in the paint; they are agile and are terrific rebounders. We knew if we wanted to win the game, we needed to have the best rebounding performance we could come up with. I thought we did a pretty good job of that, out rebounding them by 10 and holding our own considering were undersized.”
GAME NOTES: UNCG allowed less than 60 points for the fifth straight game, all victories for the Spartans...UNCG held the advantage in bench points (26-11), points in the paint (28-16) and fast break points (8-0)...Kristen Boone, who was named all-conference earlier in the week, had eight points (all in the first half), eight rebounds and four assists...Jasmine Dixon was solid in the post, having seven points and eight rebounds in only eight minutes.
UNC GREENSBORO 68, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 56
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (11-18)
MELSON, Ashley 6-14 0-0 16; NEWTON, Nicole 4-14 4-5 12; RIVENS, Ashley 4-9 2-2 11; DUBOSE, Lee 2-6 4-4 10; ATWOOD, Shawnda 2-10 1-2 5; WATERMAN, Christa 1-3 0-0 2; SPOON, Leslie 0-1 0-0 0; HENRY, Concella 0-6 0-0 0; DALEY, Nya 0-5 0-2 0. Totals 19-68 11-15 56.
UNC GREENSBORO (17-11)
LATHAM, KaLeah 7-13 2-3 17; BROOKS, Kemena 5-8 1-2 14; OTAMIRI, Irene 4-6 2-2 10; BOONE, Kristen 3-10 2-3 8; DIXON, Jasmine 2-2 3-6 7; CHAMBERLAIN, Meghan 3-5 1-2 7; CURRENT, Ashley 1-2 3-5 5; LING, Ashley 0-1 0-2 0; GRIMSLEY, Gini 0-1 0-0 0; BLAIR, Caroline 0-0 0-0 0; BYRD, Jasmine 0-10 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 14-25 68.
Halftime: UNC Greensboro 32-27. 3-point goals-Georgia Southern 7-19 (MELSON, Ashley 4-8; DUBOSE, Lee 2-5; RIVENS, Ashley 1-4; DALEY, Nya 0-1; SPOON, Leslie 0-1), UNC Greensboro 4-14 (BROOKS, Kemena 3-4; LATHAM, KaLeah 1-2; LING, Ashley 0-1; BYRD, Jasmine 0-5; OTAMIRI, Irene 0-2). Fouled out--Georgia Southern-None, UNC Greensboro-None. Rebounds-Georgia Southern 39 (NEWTON, Nicole 10), UNC Greensboro 49 (BOONE, Kristen 8; DIXON, Jasmine 8; LATHAM, KaLeah 8). Assists-Georgia Southern 7 (MELSON, Ashley 1; DALEY, Nya 1; HENRY, Concella 1; DUBOSE, Lee 1; NEWTON, Nicole 1; RIVENS, Ashley 1; ATWOOD, Shawnda 1), UNC Greensboro 14 (BOONE, Kristen 4). Total fouls-Georgia Southern 21, UNC Greensboro 13. Att: 349.
- UNCG -