UNCG headed to SoCon championship game with win over Davidson
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – The UNC Greensboro women’s basketball team downed Davidson 69-58 in a Southern Conference Semifinal game Saturday night at North Charleston Coliseum.
UNCG is headed back to the SoCon finals for the first time since 2002 and the fifth time overall in the nine seasons competing in the league. The Spartans last appearance ended with a 77-69 loss to Chattanooga. The long awaited matchup with the Lady Mocs will take place Sunday night at 6 pm.
“We had to work hard for that win,” explained UNCG head coach Lynne Agee. “Jasmine Byrd started the game hot as fire and that gave us a lot of confidence early on to play well. I think some of the little adjustments we made late in the game came up big for us.”
The Spartans calling card down the stretch this season has been their defense and once again on Saturday the club turned up its effort on the defensive end, limiting Davidson to only four points over a key 4:03 stretch that saw UNCG snap a 48-48 tie with a 13-4 run that gave the Spartans a 61-52 lead with 4:43 left.
“Our defensive pressure forced Davidson to use time off the clock. That pressure made it difficult to work their offense,” said Kristen Boone. “The first two games (against Davidson) were close to the very end and I knew we just had to keep our composure, be smart and take care of the ball.”
“We’ve used a soft 2-2-1 most of the year as containment,” said Agee. “They (Davidson) like to reserve it and it helps to take time off the clock. We moved to a 2-3 zone to use the clock to our advantage. It forced them to use the clock more to try and find the open shot and we used that to our advantage to slow the game down.”
Junior guard Jasmine Byrd led UNCG (18-11) with 15 points, while Boone added 13 points, 11 in the second half, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Junior forward Irene Otamiri scored nine points and Latham provided seven points and six boards.
Boone, who had only four points in the first 32 minutes of the game, scored nine points over the final eight minutes of the game and Latham added five straight at one point to pad the clubs advantage. The Spartans increased their lead to 11 on a layup by sophomore guard Kemena Brooks at the 2:55 mark and again on a free throw by Boone that accounted for the final score of 69-58.
Kelly Gassie’s 16 points led all scorers for Davidson (17-12). Danielle Hemerka had 10 points.
The Spartans continued to pound the ball inside, which resulted in 30 points in the paint. “One of the things that makes us successful is our inside game. We have a solid mix between inside pressure and perimeter play. I though Ashley Current did a good job of coming off the bench for us tonight.”
The first five minutes of the game ended with a 7-7 tie. Irene Otamiri made consecutive buckets to give UNCG a 4-2 lead, while Jasmine Byrd connected from 3-point range for a 7-3 Spartan advantage at the 16:35 mark. Byrd led the Spartans early by making four of her first five shots as the Spartans took a 17-10 lead at the 8:39 mark.
Davidson went 5:50 without a field goal until Mercedes Robinson’s layup made it a 17-12 affair with 7:50 left until halftime. The Wildcats were able to get within one point on three occasions; the final time being 24-23 on two free throws by Jessica Mitchell with 2:50 to go. From there, the Spartans closed the half on an 8-4 run to go into the locker room with the lead for the ninth straight time, up 32-27.
UNCG shot 52.2 percent (12-for-23) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, while Davidson connected on 37.5 percent (9-of-24) of its attempts.
GAME NOTES: UNCG improves to 17-3 when leading at the half...Kristen Boone’s two steals leaves her with 99 for the season...The Spartans and Wildcats tangled in the semifinals back in 1999 when Davidson win 92-91...UNCG allowed less than 60 points for the sixth straight game, all victories for the Spartans.
UNC GREENSBORO 69, DAVIDSON 58
GASSIE, Kelly 5-10 5-8 16; HEMERKA, Danielle 4-9 2-2 10; MITCHELL, Jessica 3-9 2-2 9; CRAYTON, Janell 3-9 2-3 9; ROBINSON, Mercedes 2-5 2-2 6; HOUSLEY, Honna 2-7 0-0 5; KELLY, Brynn 1-3 1-3 3; WASHINGTON, Tia 0-3 0-0 0; HALBERSLEBEN, Mandy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-55 14-20 58.
UNC GREENSBORO (18-11)
BYRD, Jasmine 6-11 2-2 15; BOONE, Kristen 4-7 5-6 13; OTAMIRI, Irene 3-9 3-4 9; LATHAM, KaLeah 1-4 5-6 7; BROOKS, Kemena 1-3 3-4 5; DIXON, Jasmine 1-2 2-2 4; CHAMBERLAIN, Meghan 1-5 2-2 4; GRIMSLEY, Gini 2-3 0-0 4; BLAIR, Caroline 2-2 0-0 4; CURRENT, Ashley 2-3 0-0 4; LING, Ashley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-49 22-26 69.
Halftime: UNC Greensboro 32-27. 3-point goals-Davidson 4-20 (MITCHELL, Jessica 1-3; CRAYTON, Janell 1-4; GASSIE, Kelly 1-2; HOUSLEY, Honna 1-6; WASHINGTON, Tia 0-1; KELLY, Brynn 0-1; HEMERKA, Danielle 0-3), UNC Greensboro 1-9 (BYRD, Jasmine 1-2; BOONE, Kristen 0-1; OTAMIRI, Irene 0-3; BROOKS, Kemena 0-2; GRIMSLEY, Gini 0-1). Fouled out--Davidson-CRAYTON, Janell, UNC Greensboro-None. Rebounds-Davidson 29 (KELLY, Brynn 7), UNC Greensboro 40 (BOONE, Kristen 7). Assists-Davidson 12 (MITCHELL, Jessica 3), UNC Greensboro 11 (BOONE, Kristen 6). Total fouls-Davidson 22, UNC Greensboro 19. A-1102.
- UNCG -