GREENSBORO, N.C. – Monique Floyd scored a career-high 23 points and UNCG won its third straight game to even its record and move to 2-0 in the Southern Conference with a 71-61 win over Furman on Monday.
Floyd continued to be a force for the first-place Spartans (5-5, 2-0 SoCon), scoring in double digits for the ninth time in 10 tries this season and pulling down a game-high eight rebounds. Kendra Smith added a season-high 14 points, while Amanda Leigh had 12.
Kelly O'Connor had 16 points to lead the Paladins (6-4, 2-1 SoCon), but she didn't score after the 7:46 mark in the first half. Kaitlin Murphy and Raegan Thompson had 11 each for Furman, while Kendra Berry shared game-high honors with eight rebounds.
The Spartans couldn't contain O'Connor in the opening minutes, as she had 16 of Furman's first 24 points. She hit a layup and back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Paladins on top 24-21 with 7:46 to play, but coming out of the next media timeout, Floyd was draped all over O'Connor, and the 2008-09 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year held O'Connor scoreless the rest of the way.
Floyd's offense certainly didn't suffer as a result of her stellar defense, as she went 8-for-14 from the floor to better her previous career high by one point.
The senior from Fairmont, N.C., countered O'Connor's last basket with a layup and Leigh added a jumper out of the timeout to put UNCG back on top. A Lakyn Ledford layup gave Furman the lead at 26-25, but that was the last time the Paladins would lead.
Freshman Janae' Stevenson, who finished with eight points, six boards and three blocked shots, hit a layup with 5:24 left in the first to put the Spartans on top for good. Kendra Smith would add a three-point play and a jumper and Floyd hit the front end of a two-shot foul to cap an 8-0 UNCG run that made it 33-26.
The Spartans would take a 36-30 lead into halftime, and quickly pushed their lead to 10 after intermission on a Smith 3-pointer that made it 44-34.
Furman would gradually chip away at the UNCG lead, however, getting within three points at 56-53 on Thompson's free throw with 7:19 left. Four straight UNCG points opened up a bit of breathing room, but Furman again got it down to three at 64-61 on Murphy's 3-pointer with 1:17 to play.
Floyd caught the Furman defense napping on the ensuing possession, firing a long pass down to a wide-open Stevenson underneath the UNCG basket, and Stevenson hit the uncontested layup to make it a two-possession game again.
Stevenson then came up with a steal under Furman's basket on the other end and returned the favor to Floyd, who hit a layup to make it 68-61 with 44 seconds to play.
The Paladins came up empty on their next trip down the court and were forced to foul from there on out. The Spartans went 3-for-4 from the line in the last 21 seconds to put the game away.
UNCG turned the ball over just 10 times on the afternoon and forced 24 turnovers by Furman. The Spartans took full advantage, scoring 26 points off those Paladin miscues.
"We really came to play," UNCG coach Lynne Agee said. "I thought that, all-around, it was a good team performance. Everybody was energized. A lot of that energy came from Mo. Monique Floyd is playing like every game is her last game. She stepped it up today and the team is following her.
"I thought we showed good maturity, actually. We didn't get real rattled. We got a little nervous when we let them creep back into it there down the stretch, but handled ourselves well and got a couple open baskets and then secured the win. We did some solid things mentally down the stretch even though we gave them an opportunity to get back into the game."
The Spartans, who are 2-0 in the conference for the second time in the last three seasons, will have plenty of time to savor the victory, as they are idle until Dec. 31, when they will hit the road to face Davidson at 2 p.m.
NOTE: Leigh went 1-for-8 from 3-point range, moving into sole possession of third place on UNCG's career 3-pointers list. She now has 136, one ahead of fourth-place Sam Ferguson (1995-98).
UNCG 71, FURMAN 61
FURMAN (6-4, 2-1 SoCon)
O'CONNOR, Kelly 6-12 0-0 16; THOMPSON, Raegan 4-7 1-3 11; MURPHY, Kaitlin 5-12 0-2 11; OBERG, Kaitlin 4-5 2-3 10; BERRY, Kendra 2-10 1-3 5; LEDFORD, Lakyn 1-4 2-2 4; RANDOLPH, Ayanna 2-3 0-0 4; ROBINSON, Martha 0-2 0-0 0; MORRISSEY, Brigid 0-0 0-0 0; ROBERTS, Janice 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 6-13 61.
UNCG (5-5, 2-0 SoCon)
Monique Floyd 8-14 7-12 23; Kendra Smith 5-8 3-3 14; Amanda Leigh 5-15 1-2\ 12; Janae' Stevenson 4-9 0-0 8; Breonna Patterson 3-6 0-0 7; Dayshaun Richbow 1-4 1-2 3; Sidnei Harmon 1-2 0-0 2; Jazz Weaver 1-4 0-0 2; Sarah Folwell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-64 12-19 71.
Furman........................ 30 31 - 61
UNCG.......................... 36 35 - 71
3-point goals--Furman 7-14 (O'CONNOR, Kelly 4-8; THOMPSON, Raegan 2-3; MURPHY, Kaitlin 1-3), UNCG 3-13 (Breonna Patterson 1-3; Amanda Leigh 1-8; Kendra Smith 1-1; Sarah Folwell 0-1). Fouled out--Furman-None, UNCG None. Rebounds--Furman 36 (BERRY, Kendra 8), UNCG 36 (Monique Floyd 8). Assists--Furman 8 (MURPHY, Kaitlin 6), UNCG 13 (Monique Floyd 4). Total fouls--Furman 15, UNCG 15. Technical fouls--Furman-None, UNCG-None. A-176
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