ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Wofford SID)– No. 4 seed Wofford jumped out to a big lead Thursday and never let up, defeating No. 5 UNC Greensboro 78-66 in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 Ingles Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale Brick at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville.
The Terriers (12-10) opened up a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and never let that bulge dip to single digits the rest of the way to advance to Friday’s noon semifinal game against No. 8 ETSU (4-15). The Buccaneers opened the tournament by knocking off top seed Samford 68-61.
An anticipated defensive battle was seen early as both teams struggled to score, but jumpers from Jamari McDavid and MaryMartha Turner made the score level, 4-4 midway through the first. After Annabelle Schultz came up with a steal, she nailed a three from the wing and on the following possession Hatton sunk one from deep to force UNCG into a timeout, the Terriers leading 10-4. Alexis Tomlin checked into the game and made a 10-footer, while Turner scored a left-handed layup. Wofford ended the 1st quarter on a 9-0 run as Helen Matthews scored the final five points for a 19-6 lead.
McDavid opened the 2nd quarter scoring with a pair of free-throws and Hatton was able to get one to fall as the lead stretched to 14. Carman knocked down a step-back jumper in transition and Alea Harris swished a triple to continue Wofford’s offensive dominance. McDavid quickly scored another two and Tomlin made one from the line out of the timeout to make it 30-15. The Terriers were not afraid of the deep ball as Lawren Cook took the feed from Matthews and saw it go through. Just as she did in the first, Schultz came up with a steal and score as she dropped a floater for her second bucket of the game. Hatton scored two more jumpers before the half was over as Wofford held a 20-point advantage at the break.
Carman was awarded two free-throws to begin the 3rd quarter and swished a corner three to maintain the 20-point lead. Matthews recorded her fifth assist as she dumped one off to Hatton as she was the first Terrier into double figures. The Spartans went on to a 7-0 run which cut the lead to 13 with 4:39 remaining in the quarter. Wofford broke its scoring drought as Cook corralled an offensive rebound and laid it back in to push the Terriers to a 50-37 lead. After McDavid made one from the corner, Schultz went around her defender for her second 3-pointer of the game to prevent UNCG from getting any closer. The Spartans were able to score late though as the Terriers were up 57-45 going into the final frame.
Wofford began the 4th quarter with the first basket as McDavid sprinted by her defender for a reverse layup. Niyah Lutz saw her 3-pointer rattle in and Carman matched that as she was the third Terrier into double figures. Matthews length and athleticism gave her an open layup and she followed that up with an elbow jumper to give her 11, as UNCG called a timeout. Lutz put Wofford over 70 as she hit a three, and Matthews couldn’t be stopped in the 4th quarter as she laid one in with the left hand. Abbey Crawford was the last of the freshmen to get her first experience in the SoCon Tournament, as she checked in with two minutes to go and helped the Terriers close out the remainder of the game.
Helen Matthews led the Terriers and finished with a career-high 16 points, nine of which came in the 4th quarter where she shot 4-4. Jamari McDavid and Jackie Carman both reached double digits with 10, and Lilly Hatton recorded her first double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The team shot 47% from the field and 52% from three point land, their best mark since their win over ETSU on January 14.
“I was really proud of our team and their effort. It’s really important in one-and-done games to get off to a good start, and even though ours wasn’t the best, we were scoring the ball which helped”, said head coach Jimmy Garrity. “We had some good looks and knocked down some shots today. UNCG cut into our lead a few times, but we never panicked and made plays to get the lead back up. ETSU is a great team and they’ve played well the past month. They outplayed Samford to advance and we will need our best effort against them.”
Wofford wins their second Southern Conference Tournament game in three years and moves on to the semifinals where there will play ETSU, who upset #1 Samford in the opening game of the tournament. The Terriers and Bucs met two years ago in the postseason with Wofford taking that game 75-66. Tomorrow’s tipoff is set for 12:00 pm.