CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The UNCG women's basketball team gave Southern Conference leader Chattanooga all it could handle Monday, but late perimeter shooting saved the Mocs as they escaped with a 74-68 victory inside McKenzie Arena. The Spartans nearly snapped Chattanooga's 10-game winning streak as well as almost handing the Mocs their first home loss of the season.
Sophomore guard Jessica Collins (Raleigh, N.C./Eckerd College) poured in a career-high 21 points – including hitting a personal-best four three-point field goals – to lead four UNCG players in double figures. Also hitting for double digits were junior guard Breonna Patterson (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley), junior forward Janae' Stevenson (Columbia, S.C./Eau Claire) and freshman guard Lucy Mason (Stone Mountain, Ga./Chamblee Charter) who dropped in 14, 12 and 12 respectively. Stevenson also paced the Spartans with six rebounds while Patterson and Collins each dished out five of UNCG's 14 assists.
The Spartans shot 47 percent from the floor in the contest (27-for-58), but were out-rebounded by a much bigger Chattanooga squad 42-23. UNCG hit 46 percent of its three-point field goals (5-for-11) and 75 percent of its free throw attempts (9-for-12). An active defense also allowed the Spartans to force 19 Moc turnovers, which led to 12 steals and 17 points off those miscues. UNCG coughed up the ball just 13 times for the second-straight game.
Jumping out to a quick 6-2 lead, the Spartans hung tough with Chattanooga. When Ashlen Dewart gave the Mocs a 9-6 advantage at the 15:07 mark, Patterson responded with an old-fashioned three-point play to knot the score. The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes until Meghan Downes capped a 11-5 run which gave Chattanooga a 20-14 cushion.
A triple by Kayla Christopher extended the Mocs' lead to seven with 5:22 on the clock, but Collins came alive as the clock wound down toward the half. She would nail two threes in the final 1:07, the second with eight ticks remaining, to erase a five-point deficit and send UNCG into the locker room with a 32-31 edge.
Collins set her personal high in the first 20 minutes alone, scoring 16 points, while Patterson had eight. Dewart was a force down low as she netted nine points to pace Chattanooga. The Mocs also benefitted from a 23-9 cushion on the glass, including 11 offensive rebounds, but UNCG held the upper hand from the floor, shooting 46 percent as compared to a 42-percent showing by the home side.
The Spartans did not back down at all in the second half, stunning the home crowd by racing out to a 42-37 lead and forcing a timeout by Chattanooga. A steal and score by senior forward Sidnei Harmon (Cincinnati, Ohio/Turpin) ignited the run.
A free throw by freshman guard Ebona Goins (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley) allowed UNCG its largest lead of the game at 43-37, but the Mocs scored seven-straight points to retake the advantage at 44-43. Chattanooga was able to enjoy its lead for just 24 seconds as Collins knocked down a three with a defender in her face to make the score 46-44.
Patterson hit a jumper at the 10:02 mark to give the Blue and Gold a 50-48 edge. However, Kayla Christopher changed the face of the game by knocking down three-consecutive triples to swing the momentum to the Mocs' side. When the dust cleared, Chattanooga found itself ahead 68-56 with 1:56 remaining in the game.
UNCG did not give up, however, as a three-point play by Mason sliced the home team's cushion to just seven (68-61) as the clock wound down to 1:07. Tatianna Jackson answered with a three-point play of her own, before a layup by Stevenson pulled the Spartans to within seven at 72-65 with 35 seconds left to play. Taylor Hall hit one of two free throws to make the score 74-66 before Stevenson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a layup with four seconds remaining to provide the game's final margin. Mason recorded a steal with two seconds left but her three-point attempt fell well short.
The Blue and Gold will return home for five of its last six regular season games, beginning Saturday, Feb. 16 against local SoCon rival Elon. Tipoff at Fleming Gymnasium is slated for 2 p.m.
- UNCG -