Women’s Basketball Knocks Off Norfolk State, 71-63
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Freshman Lucy Mason (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee Charter) led four Spartans in double figures offensively Saturday with a career-high 22 points as the UNCG women's basketball team picked up a 71-63 nonconference victory over Norfolk State at Fleming Gymnasium.
The Spartans' 71-point output marks the highest for the squad this season. The Blue and Gold (2-6) also improved to 20-1 in their last 21 contests when scoring 70 or more points and posted its first win over NSU (1-8) in three tries.
"We have had quite a bit of adversity the last few days but our effort and focus was great right from the start," head coach Wendy Palmer said. "I am just so proud of and happy for this team. The ladies are really deserving of this win."
Also reaching double digits in the scoring column were freshman Ciara Morris (Hope Mills, N.C./South View), junior Janae' Stevenson (Columbia, S.C./Eau Claire) and sophomore Jarae Savage (Marietta, Ga./North Cobb) who netted 12, 11 and 10 points respectively. Mason, Morris and Stevenson each pulled down seven rebounds to pace UNCG on the glass while Mason dished out a team-best four assists.
Stevenson went to the line 12 times in the game and hit 11 free throws, marking the first time a Spartan has hit that many since Samika Foster did so Nov. 20, 2000 against Charlotte.
UNCG ended up with the upper hand in shooting from the field, knocking down 20 of 55 attempts for a 36-percent performance while the visiting Spartans took 76 shots but could only hit 26 (34 percent). The Blue and Gold arguably won the game at the free throw line, where UNCG drained a season-high 26 of 34 tries. It was the first time the Spartans earned 30 or more trips to the line since shooting 35 against Wofford March 5, 2009. Norfolk State won the battle of the boards, pulling down 51 rebounds to UNCG's 39, and kept itself in the game by notching 21 offensive caroms. The Blue and Gold grabbed 12 steals and turned the thefts into 22 points on the other end.
The Spartans jumped out to a 6-2 advantage in the first two minutes as Morris and Mason dropped in back-to-back three-point field goals. UNCG was able to keep the lead until the 14:05 mark when Quineshia Leonard put in a layup to give NSU an 8-7 lead.
Freshman Ebona Goins (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) netted the next three points for the Spartans to push the home team ahead 10-8, but an old-fashioned three-point play by Rachel Gordon shifted the lead back to the visitors 15-12 with 9:51 left in the half. The advantage stretched all the way to six points for Norfolk State when Recca Trice knocked down a jumper at the 6:32 mark; however, UNCG held NSU scoreless for the next 5:20 and took advantage as three different Spartans scored during the stretch to put the Blue and Gold ahead by seven at 34-27. Ebony Brown netted the last two points of the half to leave UNCG with a 34-29 cushion at the break. It was the first time the Spartans enjoyed a halftime lead this season.
Morris and Mason reached double figures in the first half with 12 and 10 points apiece while Mason secured five rebounds. UNCG shot 38 percent (11-for-29) from the field and limited the visiting Spartans to just 31 percent (12-for-39). Norfolk State also held a 27-21 advantage on the glass with 12 offensive rebounds.
Savage hit a jumper from the right side to open the scoring in the second half, but Ebony Brown drained a triple to cap an 11-2 run and give her team a 40-38 lead. Mason hit a jumper off an assist from Morris to tie the game at 40 before sophomore Jessica Collins (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield) scored her first two points of the season from the line to afford UNCG a lead it would relinquish just once the rest of the afternoon. The Spartans quickly stretched the advantage back to seven as freshman Sarafina Arthur-Williams (Germantown, Md./Winston Churchill) converted a free throw attempts to make the score 52-45 with 11:59 remaining.
Norfolk State made one last push, rallying to tie the score at 52 when Tamara Majette pulled down an offensive rebound and scored on a put back. However, Majette committed a foul on the ensuing UNCG possession and Stevenson put in a free throw to put the Blue and Gold back on top.
The Spartans held NSU scoreless until the 5:08 mark when Aivah Parham dropped in a layup, leaving UNCG with a 59-54 cushion. The visitors would make things interesting down the stretch, cutting their deficit to just four at 67-63 when Majette hit a jumper, but that was as close as Norfolk State would come and would represent the Spartans' last points of the contest. Goins drained a free throw with 56 seconds remaining and Mason iced the game with three free throws which put her over the 20-point mark for the first time this season and in her career.
UNCG looks to build on today's victory when it hosts North Carolina Central Wednesday, Dec. 19 at Fleming Gymnasium. Tipoff between the Spartans and Eagles is scheduled for 7 p.m.
- UNCG -