The UNCG women’s basketball team has been up and down this year. Non-conference play looked pretty well for the Spartans. Some of their huge wins included: High Point, Longwood, NC Central, and New Orleans. Conference play has been a different story for the Spartans though. They have struggled in the extremely talented Southern Conference. They have had many tough losses throughout the conference season. UNCG faced Mercer in their first conference game and lost to the Bears in overtime. The next conference game was another heart-breaking loss to Samford. Wofford came into Fleming Gymnasium and beat the Spartans in overtime as well. There were also multiple more losses to Southern Conference opponents for UNCG. Coming into the final conference game Saturday, the lady Spartans were still looking for their first win in conference play. Western Carolina came into Fleming Gymnasium to try to ruin senior day for UNCG’s Lucy Mason, Kaitlin Callahan, Jazmine Missouri, and Medena Bartley.
Western Carolina came out to play against UNCG. The Catamounts controlled the speed of the game throughout the entire first half. It just felt like the Spartans were trying to keep up with Western Carolina throughout the half. At one point, Western Carolina was leading UNCG by 19 points. At halftime, Western Carolina was leading UNCG 45-33. There is a reason that Western Carolina was leading at halftime. You can tell by the pure statistics. In the first half, the Catamounts shot 54% overall from the floor. They also shot 40% from three point land. Also, Western Carolina shot 81% from the free throw line. It was a totally different story for the Spartans. They shot 34% from the field overall. Also, the lady Spartans only shot 14% from the three point line and 46% from the free throw line.
The second half was a whole different story for the Catamounts and Spartans. It was like the Spartans took the breath right out of Western Carolina during most of the second half. UNCG continued to chip away at Western’s lead. They slowly clawed back into the game. The main reasons for this was: Lucy Mason and UNCG’s full-court defense. Lucy Mason had a superb first half for the Spartans with twelve points, but really took over in the second half. When the Spartans needed a basket, the basketball was definitely in Lucy Mason’s hand. Also, the Spartans showed glimpses of superb defense. When the Spartans had to play half-court defense against Western Carolina, they seemed to struggle. Western Carolina had a lot of size down low. At some points, the Spartans clearly just could not guard it at all. However, coach Wendy Palmer made a great in-game change to the defense. She decided to play full-court defense. Western Carolina was so surprised by this and could not break it much during the game. Even when they would break the defense, the Catamounts still struggled to score. UNCG’s full-court defense caused so many turnovers and made such an impact on the game. Lucy Mason made it interesting when she made a three with about a minute left to cut the lead to three points. Then, Western Carolina hit clutch free throws to seal the game. Ultimately, the Spartans could not come out with the win at the end. UNCG won the point battle in the second half 47-41, but Western Carolina came out with the 86-80 victory on senior day.
Western Carolina had balanced scoring all-around. Ace Easter had 23 points. Brianne Mack had 16 points and 7 rebounds. Ali Lane had 14 points and 9 assists while Justin Taylor had 11 points.
UNCG had players that shined as well. Lucy Mason had 24 points and 9 rebounds in her final game in Fleming Gymnasium. Jarae Savage had a double-double (23 points and 13 rebounds). India Timpton added 13 points for UNCG.
So, UNCG ended conference play with a 0-14 record. Now, the lady Spartans look forward to the Southern Conference Tournament. They will either play Mercer in the first round of the SoCon tournament.