CORAL GABLES, Fla. – UNCG got a career-high 15 points from Dayshaun Richbow and freshman Janae' Stevenson's first career double-double as the Spartans rallied past Eastern Illinois on Friday, 66-58, in the first game of the Mayfair Hotel and Spa Thanksgiving Classic at the University of Miami's BankUnited Center.
The Spartans (1-3) will face Miami, an 89-48 winner over Florida Atlantic on Friday, in the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m.
Stevenson finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, both career highs. Amanda Leigh was also in double figures with 12 points on the evening.
Chantelle Pressley led the Panthers (1-4) with 15 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for her first career double-double, as well. Mariah King also had 15 points, while Kelsey Wyss had 14.
The Spartans trailed by 14 at the half but used an aggressive full-court press and a solid shooting effort in the second half to rally for the win.
After King's layup to open the second half put UNCG down 35-19, the Spartans rattled off a 19-6 run to cut it to three on a Richbow jumper that made it 41-38.
A Pressley layup and a Wyss 3 opened it back up to an eight-point game, but the Spartans turned up the defensive pressure and forced turnovers after three straight made baskets to take its first lead of the game.
A Jazz Weaver 3 made it 46-41, and a Sidnei Harmon steal led to a Stevenson layup that made it a three-point game. A Leigh steal led to a Richbow jumper that cut it to one, and Kendra Smith turned a Pilar Walker turnover into a layup for the Spartans' first lead of the night at 47-46 with 8:07 left.
Pressley answered with a three-point play on the other end to put the Panthers back up by two, but Monique Floyd hit a pair of free throws with just under seven minutes to play to forge a 49-all tie.
A pair of Richbow free throws put UNCG back on top briefly, but a King layup tied it again. Leigh put UNCG on top to stay at the 4:03 mark, bouncing in a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 54-51.
The Spartans would push their lead to nine points on a pair of Richbow free throws with 32 seconds left and held on for the eight-point win.
UNCG was clutch at the free throw line all night, going 16-for-19 (84.2 percent). The Spartans were 8-for-8 from the stripe in the final 3:34.
EIU threatened to turn this one into a blowout early, running out to an 11-0 lead in the contest. An Amy Clapper 3-pointer from the top of the key with the shot clock winding down got UNCG on the board, and the Spartans chipped away at the lead from there.
A pair of Floyd free throws with 7:25 left in the opening frame tied the contest at 17, giving the Spartans a fresh start, but the Panthers responded emphatically, turning in a 12-0 run over the next five and a half minutes to build their biggest lead of the game to that point.
UNCG shot just 22.6 percent from the floor in the first half, including a 1-for-11 mark from 3-point range.
For the game, UNCG's bench outscored EIU's 28-7. Thirteen of the 14 UNCG players that dressed saw action.
UNCG 66, EASTERN ILLINOIS 58
EASTERN ILLINOIS (1-4)
KING, Mariah 6-15 3-3 15; PRESSLEY, Chantelle 3-9 8-9 15; WYSS, Kelsey 5-12 1-2 14; MITCHELL, Sydney 3-7 1-4 7; NIXON, Ta'Kenya 1-3 1-5 3; OLSON, Taryn 0-2 2-4 2; PARKER, Jessica 1-4 0-0 2; HERMAN, Jackie 0-1 0-0 0; WALKER, Pilar 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-54 16-27 58.
Dayshaun Richbow 4-8 6-7 15; Janae' Stevenson 5-6 4-4 14; Amanda Leigh 5-17 0-2 12; Monique Floyd 1-2 4-4 6; Amy Clapper 2-4 0-0 5; Jazz Weaver 2-5 0-0 5; Kendra Smith 2-10 0-0 5; Breonna Patterson 0-3 2-2 2; Brey Dorsett 1-3 0-0 2; Nneka Awuruonye 0-0 0-0 0; Sidnei Harmon 0-4 0-0 0; Colleen Nosovitch 0-2 0-0 0; Sarah Folwell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-65 16-20 66.
Eastern Illinois.............. 33 25 - 58
UNCG.......................... 19 47 - 66
3-point goals--Eastern Illinois 4-10 (WYSS, Kelsey 3-6; PRESSLEY, Chantelle 1-2; PARKER, Jessica 0-2), UNCG 6-24 (Amanda Leigh 2-11; Jazz Weaver 1-1; Amy Clapper 1-1; Dayshaun Richbow 1-3; Kendra Smith 1-4; Sarah Folwell 0-1; Brey Dorsett 0-1; Breonna Patterson 0-2). Fouled out--Eastern Illinois-None, UNCG-None. Rebounds--Eastern Illinois 44 (PRESSLEY, Chantelle 15), UNCG 43 (Janae' Stevenson 10). Assists--Eastern Illinois 11 (WALKER, Pilar 6), UNCG 12 (Dayshaun Richbow 4). Total fouls--Eastern Illinois 22, UNCG 22. Technical fouls--Eastern Illinois-None, UNCG-None. A-137
- UNCG -