GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG outscored Brown 30-21 in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback Sunday afternoon and defeat the Bears 87-84 to advance to the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. The 87 points are a season high for the Spartans.
UNCG will host the Panthers of Milwaukee on Thursday in the WBI semifinals. The game will be played at 7:00 p.m. at Fleming Gymnasium.
Bailey Williams took over in the final 10 minutes, scoring 15 of her 27 points in the final stanza to push the Spartans to victory. Williams made 11-of-20 attempts from the field, while dishing out six assists and committing no turnovers in her 35 minutes of action.
“It really helps us that we have a point guard that can shoot it and drive it,” said head coach Trina Patterson. “She keeps people off balance. She was really, really good today. To have six assists and no turnovers was outstanding. Bailey is like a quiet assassin. She doesn’t say much and isn’t real vocal all the time but she just really wants it for our team.”
Nadine Soliman netted 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Soliman also grabbed six rebounds and registered a pair of steals.
Alexus Willey hit 4-of-6 shots, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc, for 13 points, while Te’ja Twitty posted her nine double-double of the year with 12 points and a team-high eight boards.
In total the Spartans shot 47.1-percent from the field, including 58.8-percent in the fourth quarter. UNCG committed just 12 turnovers, while dishing out 13 assists. The Bears were also hot from the field, making 47.8-percent of their shots.
“I thought the team shared the ball really well,” stated Patterson. “We had far too many turnovers on Thursday against Charleston Southern. I know that we are capable of a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and I’m really proud of that today. We did a great job of finding the hot shooters.”
Brown took a 19-17 lead after the first 10 minutes, though the deficit could have been worse for UNCG if not for a 5-0 run to end the period. Mehta was on fire for the Bears, knocking down 4-of-6 attempts for 10 first quarter points. Willey led the way for the Spartans with five points in the opening stanza.
Both teams came out cooking with gas in the second quarter. After a Williams’ jumper missed to open the period, seven of the next eight shots went in as the Bears took a 28-23 lead. In the second it was Brown that closed strong, scoring eight of the final 10 points to hit the locker room up 49-38. Erika Steeves made converted 4-of-5 attempts in the quarter for nine second quarter points.
Both teams started off sluggishly in the third but it was Brown that gained its footing first, extending its lead to a game-high 14 points on a Janie White Layup at the 5:45 mark. UNCG, though, responded with a 9-2 run to cut the lead in half. As the third quarter came to a close UNCG faced a six point deficit at 57-63.
The Bears maintained their lead for the majority of the fourth quarter but the Spartans turned it on late to complete the comeback. Williams sank a jumper from the top of the key with 2:28 to go, giving the Blue and Gold its first lead since midway through the first quarter at 77-75.
Williams kept the onslaught going, netting five of the next seven Spartan points to put UNCG up 84-78 with just 37 seconds to go. The Bears knocked in a pair of threes to keep the score close but the Spartans converted their free throws to seal the deal and advance to the WBI semifinals.
“I’m happy that our seniors have an opportunity to play another game in Fleming,” said Patterson. “We had no idea that we would be back here in March. We have a chance to do some special things to end the year.”