Basketball Squads Open Up Conference Action On Saturday
PEMBROKE – Coming off a two victorious nights of basketball action this week, the UNCP men's and women's basketball teams will open up Peach Belt Conference action on Saturday as the teams host Lander in a doubleheader in the English E. Jones Center.
Tip off for the women's game is set for 1:30 p.m., with the men set to battle approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of that game. Admission prices are $5 for adults and $2 for children 18 years of age and younger. UNCP students are admitted free with a valid Braves Card.
Junior Courtney Bolton and senior Domonique Washington gathered their first double-doubles of the season to send UNCP (3-2) soaring past Morris with a 61-41 victory on Thursday giving the Lady Braves a two-game winning streak at home. Bolton shattered her career-high in scoring with 18 points and 10 rebounds as she was 8-of-13 from the field. Washington added 15 points and set a new career-best with 13 rebounds, while dishing out three assists and snagging five steals.
Freshman Jazmine Kemp led the Lady Braves with a career-high five assists and four blocks along with collecting 10 points. Newcomer Haley Magee pulled down 10 boards to contribute to UNCP outrebounding the Lady Hornets by double the amount. The Lady Braves finished the game shooting 39.3 percent from the field, and boasted holding the Lady Hornets to a mere 24.2 percent.
Leading the squad with an average 13.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game is Washington. Bolton adds 11.8 points per game, while DeDe Cotten tallies 11.2. The squad controls a 6.0 scoring margin over opponents, and registers a 40.7 percent in field goal shooting.
Lander (3-2) captured its first PBC victory of the season over Francis Marion on Wednesday evening by a sheer three points. Mukia Myrick led the Lady Bearcat offense with 12 points, while Janyce Ealey added 11. The Lady Bearcats on average outscore opponents by 7.0 points and outrebound opponents by 1.4 rebounds. Lander averages an impressive 12.8 steals per game, and allows opponents only 5.4 steals.
Ciara Lyons (15.2), Jasmine Judge (12.0), and Myrick (10.4) are the three Lady Bearcats that average more than 10.0 points per game. Kayloyn leads the team in rebounding with 6.2 a game, while Ealey pulls down 6.0 a game.
UNCP and Lander will meet for the 41st time on Saturday in a series controlled by the Lady Bearcats. Lander will bring a 17-23 series advantage going into the game including a six-game winning streak. Last season the two squads played each other three times with the last meeting in the first round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament when Lander defeated UNCP 80-53 in Greenwood, S.C.
The Braves (5-3, 0-0 PBC) will ride a three-game winning streak into Saturday's tilt – a string that has them outscoring their opponents by an average of 39.7 points an outing, as well as outdoing their opponents in the rebounding column by an average of 19.3 boards per contest. UNCP shot better than 50 percent from the field for the third-straight game on Thursday en route to a 95-54 win over visiting Morris. The result snapped a string of triple-digit scoring games for UNCP who totaled 107 points in wins over both Allen and Fayetteville State prior to Thursday's game.
For the first time under head coach Ben Miller, UNCP boasts five players with double-figure scoring averages, including juniors Shahmel Brackett and George Blakeney who both tote a team-best 12.4 points per game average. On the strength of a 48 percent success rate from the perimeter, senior Marcus Heath has contributed 11.3 points an outing this season, while K.J. Cooper and Nathan Priest average 10.8 and 10.4 points per game, respectively. Blakeney also sports a team-best 7.5 rebounds per game average, Heath averages nearly three assists (2.8) per game and Priest has booked 2.0 blocks a game this year.
The Bearcats (3-1, 1-0 PBC) grabbed the first PBC victory of the season for any team by edging Francis Marion, 95-94, on the road in double overtime on Wednesday evening. Lander will bring a two-game winning streak into Pembroke, the Bearcats have connected on nearly 43 percent of their shots from the field, while also canning 71.6 percent of their shots from the charity stripe. Lander is -0.2 in the rebounding column this year, but most of that deficit came in the win over Francis Marion in which the Patriots out-rebounded the visiting Bearcats, 54-43.
The Bearcats carry five players with double-figure scoring averages, including senior Dwight Tolbert who has scored a team-best 19.0 points per game this season, as well as junior David Pruett who contributes 18.0 points an outing this year. Tolbert also pulls down a squad-best 9.5 rebounds per game as well.
Lander has captured wins in 25 of the 41 previous matchups with the Braves, but UNCP will carry a two-game series winning streak into Saturday afternoon's contest. The Black & Gold registered a 71-65 road victory in the league opener for both sides last season in Greenwood, and then grabbed an 81-66 victory over the visiting Bearcats on January 12 in Pembroke. UNCP has booked victories in five of the last eight matchups with Lander and have taken each of the last four series matchups in the English E. Jones Center.