Spartans down Elon on the road to pick up first SoCon win
ELON, NC – Kendra Smith set new career highs in points and rebounds, including a crucial offensive rebound with 31 seconds to play and a pair of clutch free throws with 19 seconds left as UNC Greensboro topped Elon in its Southern Conference opener on Tuesday, 45-39.
Smith finished with 11 points and six rebounds to pace three Spartans in double figures. Gini Grimsley turned in her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Monique Floyd scored 10 for UNCG (2-5, 1-0 SoCon).
Courtney Medley scored 10 points to lead the Phoenix (1-6, 0-1 SoCon), while Amber Wall had a game- and career-high 18 rebounds.
Five of Smith's points came in a 10-0 run midway through the second half that put UNCG in control. Floyd converted a Smith pass into a layup before Amanda Leigh hit a 3-pointer to put the Spartans on top by one. Smith then nailed a turnaround jumper in the lane and a 3 of her own to make it 36-30 with 8:29 to play.
The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes, but consecutive layups from Medley and Wall pulled Elon back within two at 41-39 with 2:14 to play. The Phoenix could not get a shot to drop after a UNCG turnover, however, and the Spartans' TaShama Banner came up with the rebound.
Banner got the ball into the hands of Floyd, who was fouled and went to the line for a one-and-one chance. Floyd missed her attempt, but Grimsley came up with an offensive board and UNCG called timeout. Grimsley missed a jumper out of the timeout, but Smith came up with her last and most perhaps most important offensive rebound, getting hacked on her way back up to set up her free throws, which made the score 43-39
Floyd iced the game with a pair of her own with 10 seconds left.
Neither team shot well in the first half, as UNCG hit just eight of its 37 attempts (21.6 percent) and Elon went just 8-for-32 (25 percent) as the Phoenix took a 19-16 lead into intermission. The Spartans put together a solid second half, however, shooting 11-for-27 (40.7 percent) to nearly double their total points from the first half.
The Phoenix, meanwhile, shot just 26.5 percent in the second half (9-for-34).
UNCG pulled down a season-best 46 rebounds but lost the rebounding battle for the fifth time this season. Led by Wall's 18 boards, Elon totaled 52 rebounds, including 22 on the offensive glass. Despite their edge on the offensive end, Elon had just five second-half points. UNCG managed 12 on just 15 offensive rebounds.
The Spartans blocked a season-best eight shots, with Agne Girstautaite matching her career high with three. Leigh had a career-high two, while Grimsley matched her season best with two to move up to fourth on UNCG's career list with 58.
"The first half, we shot very poorly," UNCG coach Lynne Agee said. "We made all the wrong decisions. In the second half, once we got that five- or six-point lead, I think that gave us a little more confidence on the defensive end. We really stepped up our rebounding in the second half. We had to claw and scratch, and we did.
"Kendra was a big bright spot, but so was closing. We had to close. They rallied and came back to cut it to two, and we had to finish and knock down free throws, and we did."
UNCG returns to action at noon Saturday when it hosts College of Charleston in Fleming Gymnasium. The Spartans' men's team will also face the Cougars at home on Saturday, completing the doubleheader with a 3 p.m. tip on game that will be shown on SportSouth.
UNCG 45, ELON 39
UNCG (2-5, 1-0 SoCon)
Kendra Smith 4-10 2-2 11; Gini Grimsley 5-12 0-0 10; Monique Floyd 4-8 2-3 10; Amanda Leigh 3-11 0-0 7; Agne Girstautaite 2-8 0-0 4; Tashama Banner 1-1 0-0 2; Lakiah Hyson 0-8 1-2 1; Ashley Mullins 0-4 0-0 0; Sarah Folwell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-64 5-7 45.
ELON (1-6, 0-1 SoCon)
MEDLEY, Courtney 4-19 0-0 10; DAVIS, Tiffany 3-7 2-2 8; WALL, Amber 3-14 0-0 6; TAYLOR, Julie 2-5 1-2 5; BELL, Sharwil 2-4 0-0 4; HARPER, Aiesha 1-6 0-0 2; COTTON, Urysla 1-8 0-0 2; KETO, Erica 1-3 0-3 2; GAUSE, Tiara 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-66 3-7 39.
29 - 45
Elon.......................... 19 20 - 39
3-point goals--UNCG 2-10 (Kendra Smith 1-1; Amanda Leigh 1-6; Sarah Folwell 0-1; Gini Grimsley 0-2), Elon 2-12 (MEDLEY, Courtney 2-8; DAVIS, Tiffany 0-1; TAYLOR, Julie 0-2; HARPER, Aiesha 0-1). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Elon-None. Rebounds--UNCG 46 (Gini Grimsley 10), Elon 52 (WALL, Amber 18). Assists--UNCG 11 (Lakiah Hyson 3), Elon 9 (HARPER, Aiesha 5). Total fouls--UNCG 9, Elon 10. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Elon-None. A-255
- UNCG -