Morris’ First Double-Double Lifts Women’s Basketball Past Gardner-Webb, 55-49
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Freshman guard Ciara Morris (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) posted her first career double-double and the UNCG women's basketball team forced 31 Gardner-Webb turnovers on the way to a 55-49 nonconference victory Saturday afternoon at Fleming Gymnasium.
"Today's win was hard-fought and certainly not pretty," head coach Wendy Palmer said. "What I saw tonight that I did not see the first two games from our kids was fight all the way to the end of the game. After a pretty bad first half I thought we came out and played really hard in the last 20 minutes."
The Spartans (1-2) handed the Bulldogs (3-1) their first loss of the season while also forcing more than 30 turnovers for the first time since January 29, 2011 against Wofford.
Morris not only produced 10 points and 10 rebounds, but also filled up the stat sheet to the tune of six offensive rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals. Freshman guard Lucy Mason (Chamblee, Ga./Chamblee Charter) paced UNCG in scoring for the third time in as many games, tossing in 14 to go along with four steals and three assists. Complementing Morris' work on the boards was senior forward Sidnei Harmon (Cincinnati, Ohio/Turpin) who racked up eight rebounds with four on the offensive glass.
While Gardner-Webb out-shot the home team .328 to .313, the Spartans won the battle of the boards with 49 as compared to the Bulldogs' 47. UNCG also pulled down 23 offensive rebounds and grabbed a season-high 18 steals.
The Spartans ran out to a 9-3 advantage when Morris capped the game-opening run with a jumper off an assist from sophomore Jarae Savage (Marietta, Ga./North Cobb). GWU battled back and cut the lead to 12-10 thanks to a jumper from Alicia Quinn with 12:48 left in the half. The Bulldogs continued the run, taking a 16-14 lead on a fastbreak layup by Mayhana Dunovant after Doreen Richardson stole the ball from junior Breonna Patterson (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley).
The teams struggled to put the ball in the basket for much of the remaining time in the half, but with Gardner-Webb holding a 22-18 lead as the clock ticked under three minutes, Morris dropped in a layup at the two-minute mark to slice the Bulldogs lead to just two at the break.
Mason scored eight of her 14 points in the first 20 minutes to pace the Spartans while Harmon recorded six rebounds. UNCG was able to shoot just 26 percent from the floor but GWU did not fare much better at 28 percent. The Blue and Gold also out-rebounded its visitors by four (28-24). Each team hit nine field goals and was credited with five assists on those makes.
During the first 43 seconds of the second half, GWU increased its lead to five with a Jessica Heilig layup and free throw, but two jumpers from the wing by Morris cut that advantage back to one at 25-24. After Catrina Green dropped in a layup to make the score 27-24, the Spartans responded with seven-straight points – capped by a free throw from senior Natalie Headley (Fayetteville, N.C./Fayetteville Academy) to lead by four with 15:11 left in the contest.
A Green layup brought the Bulldogs even with UNCG, 31-31, at the 13:35 mark, but the Spartans took the lead for good with an 8-0 run in which Harmon scored the first four points. The Blue and Gold kept its cushion at eight, 40-32, when junior Janae' Stevenson (Columbia, S.C./Eau Claire) hit a foul shot. However, Gardner-Webb made one last push, decreasing its deficit to three when a Candace Brown layup made the score 42-39.
Jumpers by Mason and Stevenson stretched the UNCG lead back to 46-39 with 4:46 remaining on the clock and the Spartans allowed the Bulldogs to come no closer than five the rest of the way. GWU's Jasmine Dale hit the team's only three-point field goal of the day to make the score 52-47 with just 49 seconds left, but a Headley free throw provided the game's final six-point margin and improved the Spartans' 2012-13 record in Fleming Gym to 1-1.
The Blue and Gold hits the road for its next two games as the Spartans will travel to Liberty Tuesday, Nov. 27 for a nonconference tilt at the Vines Center before opening Southern Conference play at Western Carolina. Tipoff between UNCG and Liberty is slated for 7 p.m.
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