Women's Hoops Heads To Western Carolina For SoCon Opener
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The UNCG women's basketball team opens its Southern Conference schedule Saturday, traveling to the mountains for a matchup with Western Carolina. Tipoff at the Ramsey Center is slated for 7 p.m.
After four-straight contests against Big South members, the Spartans look to start league play on a high note. The Blue and Gold fell to Liberty on the road in its last outing by a 76-56 score.
Freshman point guard Lucy Mason set a career high in the game with 18 points, including the team's only three-point field goal, while junior guard Breonna Patterson netted a season-best 14 with 12 in the second half. On the boards, junior Janae' Stevenson picked up a team-best seven (four offensive) and fell just short of double figures in points with eight. The Spartans forced the Lady Flames into 27 turnovers, which resulted in 17 steals for UNCG – including a career-high four from sophomore Jarae Savage.
• Saturday's contest marks the 61st meeting between UNCG and Western Carolina with the teams tied at 30 wins apiece. The Catamounts captured both meetings last season.
• UNCG has split its last four Southern Conference openers. The Spartans dropped a 63-46 decision to Chattanooga at home to begin league play last season. The year before, UNCG downed Wofford 80-67 in Greensboro on the way to a 10-10 SoCon record.
• Western Carolina was picked to finish seventh in the standings by both the media and league coaches. The Catamounts return four of five starters from a team that posted a 14-17 record last season. Thus far in 2012-13, WCU is led by Diamond Hunnicutt who averages 9.4 points per game as well as three rebounds per contest. Opponents are outrebounding the Catamounts by 3.4 boards per game.
• The Catamounts are 1-2 at home early in the season with a win over North Carolina Central and losses to Campbell and USC Upstate. UNCG dropped its only true road game of the year in its last outing, falling 76-56 to Big South preseason favorite Liberty in Lynchburg.
• In its last game, Western Carolina's second half comeback attempt fell short in the Catamounts' 51-48 loss to USC Upstate Tuesday in the Ramsey Center. The Catamounts outscored the Spartans 25-18 in the second half, but couldn't overcome the 10-point deficit, 33-23, Western Carolina suffered at the halftime break. USC Upstate shot a blistering 65 percent in the first half and shooting 50 percent for the game. Hana Haden, Hunnicutt and Rena Wakama led Western Carolina with eight points while Shauna Terry paced the Catamounts with seven rebounds. It was free throws that were the crux for Western Carolina with the Catamounts hitting 16-of-24 for the game. The Catamounts struggled from the charity stripe in the first half, hitting 7-of-12. Western Carolina did win the rebounding battle, 39 to 33 and committed 13 turnovers to USC Upstate's 19. The Catamounts mounted a last ditch effort, with three seconds left, as Wakama looked for a shot. She fought for an open look but it fell short and the rebound went to USC Upstate to end the game.
FROSH LEADING THE WAY...
Freshman point guard Lucy Mason has enjoyed a fine start to her UNCG career as she is averaging a team-best 16.3 points in the Spartans' first four contests. She has led the squad in scoring all four games while averaging 33.2 minutes played. Mason also currently ranks fifth among SoCon players in scoring average.
PLAY THE D...
The Spartans have played some intense defense so far this season, racking up 60 steals and forcing 110 turnovers. Mason owns a team-best 11 of those steals, putting her tied for 60th in the nation while UNCG ranks first in the league and 11th nationally with 15.0 per contest. The Spartans are also 55th among NCAA Division I squads in turnover margin.
BLUE CHIP PERFORMER...
Freshman guard Ciara Morris posted her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Gardner-Webb, earning her BCBSNC Spartan Blue Chip performer accolades for that week. She also filled up the stat sheet to tune of six offensive rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals.
THREE-POINT STREAK AT 24...
UNCG has nailed at least one three-point field goal in the last 24 games and 179 of the last 180. The Spartans owned a streak of 155-straight contests with a triple until they went 0-6 at Wofford Dec. 17, 2011.
Junior Janae' Stevenson is rapidly moving her way up the UNCG career blocked shots list. As a freshman, she swatted 36 shots, the fourth-most in a single season in school history. She did two better with 38 blocked shots last season. With 78 to her credit now, she is fifth in program career history. Stevenson blocked a career-high four shots in UNCG's 55-54 win over Georgia Southern last year. Should she maintain her current pace, Stevenson should easily surpass UNCG's career record of 121 by Rebecca Viverette (1994-98) by the time her career is over.
WHAT'S UP NEXT...
UNCG will kick off a five-game homestand, which spans most of December, Monday night with a SoCon matchup against College of Charleston at Fleming Gym. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
- UNCG -