Spartans hold on for win over West Virginia
GREENSBORO, NC – Jasmine Byrd converted two free throws in the final 49 seconds of the game to lift the UNC Greensboro women’s basketball team to a 72-70 victory over West Virginia Saturday afternoon at Fleming Gym. The victory marked the first ever win for the Spartans over a BIG EAST Conference opponent.
Sophomore guard Kristen Boone scored a team-leading 16 points in her season debut for the Spartans. The Upper Marlboro, MD native also had a team-best six steals and five assists. Byrd, the junior guard from Dumfries, VA, tossed in 13 points (11 in the first half), while senior forward Ashley Current and junior forward Irene Otamiri scored 12 and 10 points respectively.
All-American Meg Bulger scored a game-high 23 points for West Virginia (3-2) on 8-of-14 shooting. Olayinka Sanni and Chakhia Cole each contributed 17 points in the loss.
With the game tied 70-70 with 49 ticks showing on the clock, Byrd drained one of two free throws to put UNCG ahead. After a missed jumper by UNCG’s Meghan Chamberlain, the Mountaineers had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead but Chakhia Cole was called for traveling with 10 seconds left. After a time out by UNCG, Byrd was fouled and made the first of two free throws for a 72-70 lead. Byrd missed the next free throw and WVU corralled the rebound and headed down court but was unable to get a shot off in the final eight seconds of the game as UNCG picked up one of its biggest wins in program history.
“I was real proud of our total 40 minute effort this afternoon, “ UNCG head coach Lynne Agee said. “I was impressed with our composure and aggressiveness. We knew we couldn’t back down at any point and we didn’t. Our team asserted themselves all game long. This certainly goes down as one of the biggest wins here at UNCG.”
UNCG (2-3) took a 37-23 lead into the second half and was able to maintain a double digit lead until Sanni’s layup got West Virginia to within nine points, 50-41, at the 11:56 mark. UNCG still led by nine, 66-57, after a pair of free throws by Boone with 4:50 showing on the clock, when WVU went on a 13-4 run to square the game, 70-70. Bulger fueled the comeback with eight of the 13 points. But the visitors were never able to grab the lead as Byrd secured the win for the Spartans.
West Virginia took its largest lead of the afternoon, 8-4, in the opening six minutes of the game, before the Spartans rattled off a 25-3 run over the next 8:54 to take their largest advantage of the game, 29-11, with 5:16 left until halftime. The Spartans were led by their pre-season all-conference backcourt as Boone scored nine points and Byrd added eight points in the run.
Yelena Leuchanka got West Virginia to within eight points, 29-21, with a layup at the 2:25 mark, but Boone, the freshman of the year in the Southern Conference last season, converted an old fashioned 3-point play and Byrd drilled a 3-pointer to put UNCG up 37-23 at the break.
“When coach put me into the game I was terrified,” said Boone, who had missed the previous four games after suffering an injury to her right hand in the first day of practice back in October. “But it all came back to me after a few minutes on the court.”
UNCG will have the next week to prepare for Saturday’s non-conference tilt with in-state rival Campbell. Game time is scheduled for 2 pm at Fleming Gym. Meanwhile, West Virginia visits Houston next Saturday at 6:30 pm.
GAME NOTES: UNCG is now 2-0 this season when four players score in double figures... With Boone leading in the scoring column, the Spartans have had a different player lead them in scoring in each game this year... UNCG had been 0-4 all-time against the BIG EAST Conference... the last victory for UNCG of this magnitude was a 78-67 overtime win over a visiting Clemson club at Fleming Gym... Boone picked up where she left off last season with six steals today... Boone led the country with 121 steals last season.
UNC GREENSBORO 72, WEST VIRGINIA 70
WEST VIRGINIA (3-2)
BULGER, Meg 8-14 5-8 23; SANNI, Olayinka 8-13 1-2 17; COLE, Chakhia 6-8 5-7 17; LEUCHANKA, Yelena 3-5 0-0 6; POWELL, Ashley 1-3 2-5 4; OWENS, LaQuita 1-4 0-0 2; KELLY, Tameka 0-0 1-2 1; DAVIS-WHITE, Britney 0-4 0-0 0; BUCAR, Sarah 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-51 14-24 70.
UNC GREENSBORO (2-3)
BOONE, Kristen 5-11 6-8 16; BYRD, Jasmine 3-10 4-6 13; CURRENT, Ashley 5-5 2-3 12; OTAMIRI, Irene 4-12 2-2 10; DIXON, Jasmine 3-4 2-4 8; BROOKS, Kemena 3-4 0-0 7; LING, Ashley 1-2 0-0 2; BLAIR, Caroline 1-3 0-0 2; CHAMBERLAIN, Meghan 1-5 0-2 2; FRAZIER, Brittany 0-0 0-0 0; JACKSON, Shanika 0-0 0-0 0; LATHAM, KaLeah 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-56 16-25 72.
Halftime: UNC Greensboro 37-23. 3-point goals-West Virginia 2-12 (BULGER, Meg 2-6; OWENS, LaQuita 0-3; DAVIS-WHITE, Britney 0-3), UNC Greensboro 4-12 (BYRD, Jasmine 3-9; BROOKS, Kemena 1-2; OTAMIRI, Irene 0-1). Fouled out--West Virginia-None, UNC Greensboro-None. Rebounds-West Virginia 37 (COLE, Chakhia 9), UNC Greensboro 29 (OTAMIRI, Irene 5). Assists-West Virginia 17 (POWELL, Ashley 8), UNC Greensboro 12 (BOONE, Kristen 5). Total fouls-West Virginia 23, UNC Greensboro 23. Att. 185.
- UNCG -