Western Carolina downs UNCG in overtime, 66-58
GREENSBORO, NC – Lakiah Hyson scored five of her game-high 19 points in the final 16 seconds of regulation and added five more in overtime, but UNC Greensboro could not hold off Western Carolina on Saturday, falling to the Catamounts 66-58.
Gini Grimsley was also in double digits with 15 points for UNCG (9-16, 6-10 Southern Conference), while Agne Girstautaite pulled down 10 rebounds and matched her career high with four blocked shots in the Spartans' Pink Zone game.
Lauren Powell was the only player in double digits for the Catamounts (14-11, 10-6) with 13 points.
With the Spartans trailing 46-41 with 27.3 seconds left in regulation, Hyson hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 15.7 left to make it a one-possession game. UNCG immediately fouled to put Kendra Carroll on the free throw line, and after Carroll hit both attempts to push the Catamounts' lead back to four, Grimsley hit a 3 with 8.6 seconds left to make it a one-point affair.
The Spartans would put Western Carolina back on the line, and the strategy worked, as Powell left the door open for UNCG by missing her first shot to make it 49-47 with eight seconds to play.
UNCG raced up the floor with a chance to tie or win it, and Hyson's pull-up jumper in the lane was good with 2.5 seconds left to knot the score and force overtime.
WCU seized control early in the OT, getting a Kristen Feemster layup to go ahead for good and Jessica Jackson's 3 from the corner with 3:26 left open up a five-point lead.
Monique Floyd's layup with 58 seconds left in the extra period would pull the Spartans to within two points at 60-58, but Western Carolina got another Feemster layup to make it a two-possession game.
After Western Carolina's 30-second timeout, the Spartans went back to work on offense, but Feemster picked off Hyson's long pass to essentially lock up the win. UNCG was forced to foul from that point, and the Catamounts went 4-for-4 at the line in the final 25 seconds.
"We just couldn't finish," Hyson said. "We got enough to get to overtime after being down, but we just couldn't finish it today."
The wild finished capped an exciting game that featured 11 ties and six lead changes and neither team leading by more than eight points.
The Spartans jumped out to a 10-2 lead to open the game, with Hyson and Grimsley hitting 3s to key the run. But just like in the first matchup between the two squads in January – when UNCG led 14-4 early – Western Carolina gradually chipped away at its deficit and made a game of it.
After Diamond Hunnicut's layup tied it at 13 with 7:45 to play in the opening frame, UNCG rattled off a 6-0 run to give itself some breathing room. But the Catamounts responded with an 8-2 run of their own, and Kendra Eaton's 3-pointer tied it at 21, where it would stay going into the locker room.
Neither side could get much separation in the second half, and Western Carolina's five-point lead at 46-41 was the largest for either side after intermission. But the Spartans were up to the task in the closing minute, getting those clutch buckets from Hyson and Grimsley when they had to have them.
"You just play with intensity," Hyson said. "You see that you're down and you just do what you can to get yourself up. Yes, it's hard and you run out of gas, but you just have to keep on pushing, and me and Gini know that. So we just tried to do that today."
As has been its Achilles heel all season, UNCG let this one slip away at the free throw line, where the Spartans were just 10-for-23 – including an 0-for-3 effort in overtime.
Grimsley once again flirted with a double-double, pulling down nine rebounds to go with her 15 points. In her last four games, Grimsley has twice missed double-doubles by one rebound and missed another by two points.
Girstautaite continued her march up the UNCG blocked shots charts, as her four moved her into third place on the Spartans' single-season list with 38. With 58 for her career, she took over fifth place on that list.
"I wish we could play in regulation the way we play in overtime," UNCG coach Lynne Agee said. "We're high intensity, we hit shots like that, and we've done that more than once. We've had ourselves right at the brink, and then we just hit lulls. We hit lulls and then we hit big shots to keep ourselves in the game. Obviously, we were hoping we'd get one more look, and we let that one get away from us with a bad pass down there.
"They beat us on the boards. They had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half alone. I'm proud of the fact that we don't quit. We play hard and we don't quit. We make big shots, but we're just not solid enough together."
Saturday's game was UNCG's Pink Zone event, which benefited the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund and UNCG's Relay for Life.
The Spartans have a favorable schedule remaining, as the four games left on the schedule are against the three teams below UNCG in the SoCon standings – Wofford, Furman and Elon – and Appalachian State, which is tied with the Spartans at 6-10 in the league. The Spartans will take on Wofford in Spartanburg, SC, on Monday at 6 p.m.
WESTERN CAROLINA 66, UNC GREENSBORO 58
WESTERN CAROLINA (14-11,10-6 SoCon)
Lauren Powell 3-13 5-8 13; Kendra Eaton 4-10 0-1 9; Kristen Feemster 4-6 0-0 8; Kendra Carroll 2-2 4-4 8; Emily Clarke 2-9 3-4 7; Jessica Jackson 2-5 2-2 7; Brooke Johnson 0-5 5-8 5; Kaila'Shea Menendez 2-4 0-0 4; Heather Swayne 1-1 1-2 3; Diamond Hunnicutt 1-2 0-0 2; Tt Belcher 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-58 20-29 66.
UNC GREENSBORO (9-16, 6-10 SoCon)
Lakiah Hyson 6-16 4-6 19; Gini Grimsley 6-10 0-1 15; Monique Floyd 3-11 3-5 9; TaShama Banner 2-4 1-3 5; Agne Girstautaite 2-5 0-6 4; Amanda Leigh 1-7 0-0 2; Ashley Mullins 0-4 2-2 2; Agneta Morkunaite 1-1 0-0 2; Dee Corbett 0-0 0-0 0; Sarah Folwell 0-1 0-0 0; Kendra Smith 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 21-64 10-23 58.
Western Carolina.............. 21
28 17 - 66
UNC Greensboro................ 21 28 9 - 58
3-point goals--Western Carolina 4-18 (Lauren Powell 2-8; Kendra Eaton 1-2; Jessica Jackson 1-3; Emily Clarke 0-3; Brooke Johnson 0-2), UNC Greensboro 6-23 (Lakiah Hyson 3-9; Gini Grimsley 3-5; Amanda Leigh 0-4; Ashley Mullins 0-2; Sarah Folwell 0-1; Kendra Smith 0-2). Fouled out—Western Carolina-None, UNC Greensboro-Lakiah Hyson. Rebounds--Western Carolina 48 (Emily Clarke 9; Brooke Johnson 9), UNC Greensboro 42 (Agne Girstautaite 10). Assists--Western Carolina 12 (Jessica Jackson 6), UNC Greensboro 8 (Lakiah Hyson 3; Monique Floyd 3). Total fouls--Western Carolina 21, UNC Greensboro 22. Technical fouls--Western Carolina-None, UNC Greensboro-None. A-358
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