BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The UNCG women's basketball team outscored Samford by eight in the second half Saturday to come away with a 52-51 Southern Conference road win inside the Pete Hanna Center.
The Spartans handed the defending SoCon Tournament champion Bulldogs just their third home loss of the year, improving to 5-17 overall and 2-11 in league play while Samford falls to 11-12 and 8-6. The win also marks the first for UNCG at the Pete Hanna Center.
"I am just so proud of these young ladies tonight," head coach Wendy Palmer said. "We have dealt with a lot of adversity this year and had a tough time getting down here, but I tell them all the time we need to play one possession at a time and tonight we did. The ladies really believed in themselves tonight and it showed out on the court. This is a tough place to win so I can't be more proud."
Junior forward Janae' Stevenson (Columbia, S.C./Eau Claire) scored seven points in the second half to end up with a team-best 11 while also pulling down eight rebounds. Classmate and guard Breonna Patterson (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) also finished in double figures with 10, including a 4-for-6 performance at the charity stripe. For the second-straight game, senior forward Sidnei Harmon (Cincinnati, Ohio/Turpin) paced the Spartans in rebounding with nine (five offensive). Every UNCG player who entered the game scored while all but one pulled down a rebound.
The Blue and Gold did not shoot for a high percentage, but a 17-2 advantage in offensive rebounding allowed the Spartans to put up 13 more attempts (58-45) than the home team. UNCG finished at 28 percent from the floor (16-for-58) while the Bulldogs shot 38 percent (17-for-45). The Spartans also used that cushion on the offensive glass to out-rebound Samford 43-32 overall.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to baskets by Taylor Reece and Jazmine Martin. Harmon dropped in a pair of free throws to cut the advantage to 4-2 before Reece answered with two of her own. UNCG was able to knot the score at six with 15:12 on the clock when Stevenson hit a jumper. Freshman guard Jazmine Missouri (Kensington, Md./Academy of the Holy Cross) then gave the Spartans an 8-6 lead when she nailed two foul shots, but Reece came through again, this time with a three to make it a one-point Samford cushion.
A steal and score at the 10:49 mark by Krista Strickland extended the Bulldog edge to 18-12. However, Collins knocked down the first of her two triples in the half to pull UNCG to within 18-15. The teams struggled to score over the next couple of minutes until Kendall Schwantz hit a jumper to make the score 20-15. Collins would keep the Blue and Gold close with another three, but a Martin layup allowed the Bulldogs to move in front by seven, 27-20, with 2:48 on the clock. Both squads scored two more points in the final minutes as Samford led 29-22 at the break.
The Spartans shot just 21 percent in the first 20 minutes on a 6-for-28 performance from the field. Conversely, the Bulldogs nailed 10 of their 23 attempts to end up at 44 percent. Samford also racked up a slight 19-18 advantage in terms of rebounding. Martin led all scorers with 12 points while Collins paced UNCG with eight.
A layup by Reece left the Bulldogs with a 32-26 lead with 17:40 remaining, but the Spartans went on a 7-1 run that was capped by a layup from freshman guard Ebona Goins (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) to knot the score at 33 at the 14:30 mark. Samford held a slim one-possession advantage for the next eight minutes, but UNCG made its run from there.
Another layup from Goins gave the Spartans their first lead of the second half at 43-42 with 5:37 left before a jumper by Schwantz allowed the Bulldogs to forge ahead by two, 49-47, at the 2:39 mark. A key offensive rebound by Harmon allowed freshman guard Lucy Mason to go to the line for a pair of foul shots and she would knock down one of the two to tie the contest at 49 with 1:04 remaining. Harmon came through again as she secured another offensive rebound off a free throw miss. It was then Patterson's turn for heroics as she made a nice move around a screen and went in uncontested for a layup, giving UNCG a 51-49 edge with 34 seconds on the clock.
Taylor missed a jumper on the Bulldogs' next possession and Mason reached high for a defensive rebound and was fouled in the process. She hit one of two foul shots to extend the Spartan lead to 52-49 with 10 seconds left. With one final chance, Hannah Dawson misfired on a three and Schwantz could only manage to put up a two-point field goal after Patterson lost the ball down low. Her jumper found the net, but UNCG emerged with the one-point victory.
The Spartans return to action Monday, Feb. 11, with a contest at league-leader Chattanooga. Tipoff at McKenzie Arena is slated for 5:30 p.m.
- UNCG -