GREENSBORO, NC – UNC Greensboro surrendered nearly all of an 18-point second-half lead, but made big plays late to hold off Fordham and run its win streak to three games Saturday, 50-39.
Senior Gini Grimsley scored a team-high 16 points for the Spartans (4-5), who led wire to wire. Lakiah Hyson, TaShama Banner and Kendra Smith all pulled down seven rebounds each for UNCG. Becky Peters scored a game-high 17 points for Fordham (4-6), while Kristina Bell had a game-high eight rebounds for the Rams.
The Spartans led 32-14 less than a minute into the second half, but saw the Rams slowly creep back into the game. Nursing just a three-point lead at 42-39 with 2:25 left to play, UNCG finally got the plays it needed to put the game away.
Grimsley got things started by hitting both ends of a one-and-one to push the lead back to five with just over two minutes to play. Less than 20 seconds later, Monique Floyd was at the line with a one-and-one opportunity of her own. Floyd missed the front end, but Banner came up with a huge offensive rebound on the low block and UNCG was able to get the ball to a wide-open Smith at the top of the key.
Smith, who entered the game with just one 3-point make on the season, drained the triple to stretch the lead to eight points at 47-39 with a minute and a half to go. After a Peters miss on the other end, Smith grabbed the rebound and was fouled, sending her to the line with a one-and-one. She sank both freebies to put the lead back in double digits and secure the win. Grimsley added a free throw with 17 seconds left for the final margin.
The Spartans came out firing to open the second half, with Floyd hitting a quick jumper just 13 seconds in and Amanda Leigh knocking down a 3 to expand the lead to 32-14, but the offense was about to dry up, and Fordham started chipping away.
A Grimsley jumper made it 38-23 with 14:39 to play, but UNCG would not get another field goal until Agne Girstautaite's layup with 10:31 on the clock, a span of 4:08. Fordham, meanwhile, got only a Peters 3-pointer in that span, but the Rams were about to make their move.
Peters turned consecutive UNCG turnovers into back-to-back baskets, and Annie Zopf and Takita Earl hit layups to draw Fordham within four at 40-36. Girstautaite again stopped the bleeding for the Spartans, dropping in a stickback for the first UNCG points in nearly seven minutes.
A Zopf free throw and a Tiffany Stokes layup capped a 16-4 run and pulled the Rams within three before the Spartans took over down the stretch.
"At first, it was frustrating, because we couldn't grab the ball," Grimsley said of the second half. "But we got a couple of subs in and we were able to gain control. It was ugly, and everyone was getting frustrated, but we were able to pull it back together. I'm just glad we got the win."
The Spartans held a huge advantage on the glass, nearly doubling the Rams in rebounds, 48-25. Neither team shot over 37 percent from the field on the day, and UNCG had 24 turnovers to Fordham's 21.
The game got off to a slow start, but after a sloppy opening three minutes that saw the squads combine for six turnovers, Grimsley hit a 3-pointer to ignite a 7-0 UNCG run. The Rams recovered to pull within three at 11-8, but the Spartans rattled off an 11-0 run over the next 4:30 – including an off-balance shot-clock beater from Grimsley – to make it a 22-8 UNCG lead.
"We had a real strong first half," UNCG coach Lynne Agee said. "We were solid on both ends, offensively and defensively. We had a lot of energy. In the second half, they picked it up. They got real aggressive off the dribble, and we kind of got lost on our assignments some. We had to adjust to their second-half pace, but we closed it out well and hit a couple of big shots."
The Spartans return to Southern Conference play on Wednesday, when they will put their 2-0 league mark on the line against Georgia Southern, who also enters the game atop the SoCon standings at 2-0. The game is set for 7 p.m. at Fleming Gym.
UNC GREENSBORO 50, FORDHAM 39
PETERS, Becky 8-16 0-4 17; ZOPF, Annie 3-8 2-4 8; EARL, Takita 2-7 0-0 4; BELL, Kristina 2-10 0-0 4; STOKES, Tiffany 1-2 0-0 2; HUMPHRIES, Kassie 1-1 0-0 2; WEEKES, Kyara 0-1 2-2 2; ZAMORA, Alexandria 0-0 0-0 0; WILLINGHAM, Tyonna 0-0 0-0 0; HURST, Randall 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-46 4-10 39.
UNC GREENSBORO (4-5)
Gini Grimsley 5-17 5-6 16; Lakiah Hyson 4-8 0-2 9; Monique Floyd 2-5 2-3 6; Agne Girstautaite 3-4 0-5 6; TaShama Banner 1-4 3-6 5; Kendra Smith 1-4 2-2 5; Amanda Leigh 1-6 0-0 3; Sarah Folwell 0-0 0-0 0; Ashley Mullins 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-49 12-24 50.
25 - 39
UNC Greensboro................ 27 23 - 50
3-point goals--Fordham 1-14 (PETERS, Becky 1-7; ZOPF, Annie 0-4; BELL, Kristina 0-3), UNC Greensboro 4-13 (Lakiah Hyson 1-1; Amanda Leigh 1-5; Gini Grimsley 1-5; Kendra Smith 1-1; TaShama Banner 0-1). Fouled out--Fordham-None, UNC Greensboro-None. Rebounds--Fordham 25 (BELL, Kristina 8), UNC Greensboro 48 (Lakiah Hyson 7; Kendra Smith 7; TaShama Banner 7). Assists--Fordham 5 (EARL, Takita 1; HUMPHRIES, Kassie 1; ZOPF, Annie 1; PETERS, Becky 1; STOKES, Tiffany 1), UNC Greensboro 5 (Gini Grimsley 2; Monique Floyd 2). Total fouls--Fordham 18, UNC Greensboro 15. Technical fouls--Fordham-None, UNC Greensboro-None. A-189
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