For video of UNCG coach Wendy Palmer's postgame comments, click here.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Eleventh-seeded UNCG twice cut a 15-point second-half deficit down to just three points in the final minute, but sixth-seeded Furman withstood the rally and held on for a 63-58 win in the opening round of the Southern Conference Women's Basketball Championship at Kimmel Arena on Friday.
UNCG finished its season with a 4-25 record, while Furman improved to 15-15 and will face third-seeded Chattanooga in the quarterfinal round of the tournament Saturday at 9 p.m.
Breonna Patterson had a game-high 17 points for the Spartans, including eight straight in a 10-0 run that made it a one-possession game in the final minute.
"The young ladies fought back," UNCG coach Wendy Palmer said. "They didn't give up. They didn't concede to defeat the entire game when they could have easily given up. We got down by (15), but they put their heads into it and played really hard and got within three but just couldn't pull it out."
The Paladins built their six-point halftime lead into a 51-36 advantage with 8:28 remaining before the Spartans started to make their run. A pair of Natalie Headley free throws, a Jarae Savage putback and a Janae' Stevenson jumper got UNCG back within single digits, but Furman would pump its lead back up to 13 with 4:59 left.
That was when Patterson went to work, hitting a free throw to ignite the 10-0 UNCG spurt. Patterson added a pair of free throws, a jumper and a three-point play to cut the Spartans' deficit to five at 55-50 with 1:55 left.
A minute later, Headley rebounded her own miss and got the putback to drop to make it a three-point game with 51 seconds remaining.
Kaitlin Murphy's pair of free throws halted the run and made it a five-point game again. Sarah Folwell's corner 3-pointer, which would have cut it to two, rimmed out, and UNCG was forced to foul to stop the clock.
Brigid Morrissey hit two free throws of her own to make it 59-52 with 33 seconds left, but freshman April Carson hit a 3-pointer to pull UNCG back within four.
Morrissey hit another two free throws but Carson again had the answer, swishing another 3 to make it 61-58 with nine seconds left.
That was as close as UNCG would get, as the Paladins salted away the win with a pair of Raegan Thompson free throws with three seconds to go. All told, Furman was 8-for-8 from the line in the final 46 seconds.
Furman led just 36-32 with 13:32 to play, but Teshia Griswold's 3-pointer capped a 13-2 Paladin run over the next four minutes to make it a 15-point spread.
Stevenson joined Patterson in double figures with 10 points. Stevenson, Headley and Carson had seven rebounds each. For Carson, who made her second career start, the total represented a career high.
Stevenson had two blocked shots, pushing her season total to 38, the fourth-most in a single season in school history. She also moved into fifth place in school history with 74 for her career. Folwell had a blocked shot, as well, moving her into a tie for 12th place in UNCG career history with 43.
SoCon Freshman of the Year Brittany Hodges led Furman with 16 points, while Griswold had 14 and Thompson added 13.
FURMAN 63, UNCG 58
UNCG (4-25, 3-17)
Breonna Patterson 5-18 6-7 17; Janae' Stevenson 4-10 2-2 10; Natalie Headley 2-8 3-4 7; April Carson 2-9 0-1 6; Sidnei Harmon 3-4 0-0 6; Jazz Weaver 2-4 0-0 5; Jarae Savage 2-2 0-0 4; Nneka Awuruonye 1-1 0-0 2; Dayshaun Richbow 0-1 1-2 1; Sarah Folwell 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 21-61 12-16 58.
FURMAN (15-15, 10-10)
Brittany Hodges 6-7 4-8 16; Teshia Griswold 4-7 4-4 14; Raegan Thompson 4-8 2-2 13; Lashana Booker 1-4 3-4 6; Sarah Durdaller 3-7 0-0 6; Kaitlin Murphy 1-8 2-2 4; Brigid Morrissey 0-2 4-5 4; Alexis Peterson 0-2 0-0 0; Savonia Bryan 0-2 0-0 0; Ayanna Randolph 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 19-25 63.
UNCG.......................... 22 36 - 58
Furman........................ 28 35 - 63
3-point goals--UNCG 4-17 (April Carson 2-6; Jazz Weaver 1-1; Breonna Patterson 1-5; Dayshaun Richbow 0-1; Sarah Folwell 0-3; Natalie Headley 0-1), Furman 6-16 (Raegan Thompson 3-7; Teshia Griswold 2-2; Lashana Booker 1-2; Brigid Morrissey 0-1; Kaitlin Murphy 0-3; Sarah Durdaller 0-1). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Furman-None. Rebounds--UNCG 36 (Natalie Headley 7; Janae' Stevenson 7; April Carson 7), Furman 36 (Lashana Booker 6). Assists--UNCG 9 (Breonna Patterson 3), Furman 16 (Kaitlin Murphy 7). Total fouls--UNCG 18, Furman 15. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Furman-None.
- UNCG -