Freshmen help lead Lady Hurricanes to victory
AMERICUS –It was a game that the Georgia Southwestern State University women’s basketball team (4-5, 1-2) simply needed to win before the Christmas break for their confidence and for the Peach Belt Conference standings. They were able to win that game against the University of North Carolina Pembroke 68-60. It was the Lady Hurricanes’ first PBC win of the season.
Two GSW baskets late in the game, both made by freshmen, turned out to be key plays that led the Lady Hurricanes to victory: A three-pointer by Madison Johnson and a basket by Lele Young.
“We have a lot of hope for Madison and what she’s going to do in the future,” GSW head coach Kelly Britsky said. “She’s just trying to figure it out right now, so her hitting that three-pointer was awesome. I’m just excited about the overall hustle, hitting the floor and desire to win tonight. It’s a big win for us. We needed it mentally. We couldn’t be happier. It was a total team effort. We had a time when we had five freshmen on the floor at one time, and the energy was great.”
GSW forward Mariya Trimble and junior guard Morgan Towells each led the Lady Hurricanes in scoring with 15 points. Junior point guard Tamecia Blue chipped in eight points for GSW in the winning cause.
The Lady Hurricanes were able to force the Lady Braves into committing 23 turnovers and scored 22 points off those turnovers. That ended up being another key factor in GSW’s win.
The Lady Hurricanes turned the ball over only eight times the entire game.
AS for UNCP (2-6, 1-2), they had three players in double-figures. Alecia Hardy led the Lady Braves with 15 points. Se’Dasia Love posted a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Melanie Horne also scored 11 points in the losing cause.
Trimble opened the scoring with a basket to give GSW an early 2-0 lead. With the score tied 2-2, Kayla Smith was fouled while shooting and made one of two free throws to give the Lady Hurricanes a 3-2 lead. A few minutes later, Trimble scored and got fouled. She converted the three-point play, giving GSW a 6-2 lead. With just under five minutes left in the first quarter, Towells hit a three-pointer to give the Lady Hurricanes a 9-4 lead at the 4:36 mark of the quarter. During the first quarter, the Lady Braves went cold from the field and struggled to score.
With four minutes left, Blue got a steal and scored on a fast-break layup. She was fouled on the play and converted the three-point play. At this point, GSW led 12-4. However, UNCP went on an 8-0 run, capped off by two free throws made by Hardy to tie the game at 12-12. Near the end of the first quarter, GSW used full-court pressure and was able to get a steal by Trimble. Trimble was fouled and made one of two free throws to give GSW a 13-12 lead with a little over a minute to play in the first quarter.
The Lady Hurricanes were able to get the ball back. Young was fouled and made one of two free throws. Lex Chatman then scored on a fast-break layup to give the Lady Hurricanes a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. GSW was able to take advantage of the cold outside shooting by the Lady Braves.
The Lady Hurricanes were able to build a 22-14 lead on a jumper by Chatman early in the second quarter. GSW continued to use full-court pressure to disrupt UNCP. However, the Lady Braves scored five unanswered points to cut GSW’s lead to 22-21 until Towells scored with 5:49 left in the first half. The Lady Hurricanes went up by five when Blue hit two free throws. GSW then forced another turnover, but they were unable to capitalize before timeout was called at the 4:29 mark of the first half.
GSW continued their full-court pressure and forced another turnover with 3:30 left. With 3:08 left, Kris Beckham hit a jump shot to increase the Lady Hurricanes’ lead to 28-21. However, Shaniya Lester nailed a three-pointer with under a minute left to cut GSW’s lead to 30-26. With 1.3 seconds left, Kierra York was fouled while shooting and made one of two free throws to give the Lady Hurricanes a 33-27 halftime lead.
The Lady Hurricanes were able to force 16 turnovers from UNCP in the first half. They scored 14 points off those turnovers. GSW committed only four turnovers in the first half.
For the first two minutes of the third quarter, both teams struggled to score, but UNCP went on a 4-0 run until Blue hit a three-pointer to give GSW a 36-31 lead. However, the Lady Braves went on a 4-0 run, capped off by a basket by Love. This prompted Britsky to call a timeout with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
Out of the timeout, Towells nailed a three-pointer to put GSW up 39-35. However, Love scored on a hook shot to put UNCP back to within two. Timeout was called with 4:51 left in the third quarter. Out of the timeout, Horne hit a three-pointer to give UNCP its first lead of the game at 40-39. The Lady Hurricanes responded with a 4-0 run of their own, capped off by two free throws by Trimble to give GSW a 43-40 lead with 2:43 to go in the third quarter. However, the Lady Braves went on a 6-0 run, capped off by another basket by Horne. After three quarters of play, the Lady Hurricanes trailed 46-45.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Braves missed two easy layups. GSW was able to take advantage as Trimble knocked down a three-pointer to give GSW a 48-46 lead. However, Hardy tied the game on a layup with 7:51 to go. The Lady Hurricanes were getting outrebounded on the defensive glass early on in the fourth quarter by UNCP.
Jamecia Samuels was able to hit a three-pointer for GSW, but Hardy answered for UNCP. However, Towells shot right back with a three-pointer to give GSW a 54-52 lead. Timeout was called with 5:16 left in the game with the score tied at 54-54.
The Lady Hurricanes outscored UNCP 5-2, including a big basket by Young. Tee Graham was able to knock down two free throws for UNCP to make the score 59-58 GSW. Madison Johnson hit a crucial three-pointer with about a minute left to give the Lady Hurricanes a 62-58 lead. Then the Lady Braves were called for an offensive foul with 51 seconds left. GSW would get the ball back with a four-point lead. Towells extended that lead with a pull-up jumper to give the Lady Hurricanes a 64-58 lead with 34.8 seconds left. UNCP tried a three-pointer at the other end, but it was no good and Towells was fouled with 20.6 seconds to go. Towells missed both free throws, but on the scramble for the rebound, the ball went off a UNCP player. An intentional foul was called against the Lady Braves. Towells hit both technical foul shots. Trimble would later be fouled, and she hit both of her free throws. GSW ran out the clock for the 68-60 win, their first PBC win of the season.
After the Christmas break, the Lady Hurricanes will travel to Greenwood, SC on Saturday, January 5, to take on PBC opponent Lander University. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.