UNCG returns to SoCon play at Western Carolina on Saturday
UNCG (2-10, 1-3 SoCon) at Western Carolina (5-8, 0-4 SoCon), Jan. 7, 2 p.m., Cullowhee, N.C.
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• UNCG returns to Southern Conference play for the remainder of the season when it travels to Cullowhee, N.C., for a date with Western Carolina on Saturday.
• The Western Carolina contest wraps up a season-high six-game road swing that has taken the Spartans to Richmond, Va.; Spartanburg and Greenville, S.C.; and San Diego, Calif. UNCG will finally return home to host Appalachian State on Jan. 9 in its first home game since Dec. 6.
• The Spartans have lost six straight, their longest slide in one season since a 10-game skid in 2010. UNCG did have a seven-game losing streak bridging last season and this season, dropping its final four games of the 2010-11 campaign and the first three of the 2011-12 season.
• UNCG dropped contests to San Diego State and Penn at the San Diego Surf 'N Slam Classic last week, falling to the host Aztecs 57-29 on Dec. 28 and to the Quakers 47-36 the following day. Janae' Stevenson was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 8.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in the Spartans' two games.
• Sophomore point guard Breonna Patterson, who has missed several games with injuries this season, leads UNCG with 10.7 points per game and is UNCG's top 3-point shooter by percentage (.375) and makes (nine). Stevenson is UNCG's second-leading scorer at 8.8 points per game and shares the team rebounding lead (4.8 per game) with freshman Jarae Savage. Junior Dayshaun Richbow leads the team with 3.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
• UNCG is one of just two teams in the Southern Conference with a positive turnover margin. Appalachian State is first at +5.09, while the Spartans are second at +1.25.
• Western Carolina leads the all-time series against the Spartans by the slimmest of margins, 26-25. UNCG has won three straight against the Catamounts, topping Western in the SoCon tournament in 2010 and sweeping two regular-season meetings last season. Those three games have been decided by just 4.0 points per game.
• The Spartans got a game-high 14 points from Amanda Leigh and 11 from Monique Floyd in a 56-50 win over WCU in last season's first meeting, on Jan. 3, 2011. Kaila'Shea Menendez scored 13 points to lead the Catamounts.
• In the rematch, then-UNCG coach Lynne Agee picked up her 600th career win as the Spartans downed WCU 57-53 on Feb. 7. The teams were tied late before Floyd broke the deadlock with a layup with 3.3 seconds left. Richbow then stole the inbounds pass and dropped in a layup with 1.3 seconds left to seal the win. Menendez scored a career-high 22 points, while the Spartans failed to put anyone in double figures in the winning effort.
• For the second straight year, Western Carolina is UNCG's first opponent of the New Year, with both meetings coming in Cullowhee.
• The Catamounts are off to an 0-4 start in league play but have faced four of the toughest teams in the league so far. WCU opened SoCon play with Davidson (currently tied for first at 4-0), then faced defending regular-season champion Appalachian State, defending tournament champion Samford and perennial league power Chattanooga. App, Samford and Chattanooga have all been ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 this season.
• Western snapped a six-game losing streak last time out, picking up a 63-58 win over USC Upstate on Monday. Freshman Makensey Campbell scored a career-high 18 points off the bench to lead the Catamounts, while Rena Wakama had 13 and Menendez had 11. Neither team led by more than eight in a contest that featured six ties and three lead changes.
• UNCG will be the second straight set of Spartans that the Catamounts will face in what has become a unique trend this season. WCU will be UNCG's third opponent this season to have squared off with USC Upstate in the contest immediately prior to facing UNCG. North Carolina and Radford also did so in November.
•Menendez leads Western Carolina in scoring with 11.2 points per game and is seventh nationally in free throw percentage (90.2). Caitlin Hollifield paces the squad with 5.0 rebounds per contest, while Wakama is second in scoring with 8.2 points per game and leads the team with 2.2 assists per game.
• UNCG and Western have had three common opponents so far in North Carolina Central, Samford and Chattanooga. Both teams beat N.C. Central and lost to Chattanooga, while UNCG beat Samford and WCU lost to the Bulldogs.
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