PEMBROKE — After three straight losses for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke women’s basketball team, Nyla Allen was determined to keep No. 4 away from Pembroke on Wednesday night.
The senior succeeded with a career-high scoring output in the Lady Braves’ 61-59 win over Augusta.
“We just wanted to bounce back,”said Allen, who scored 23 points in 28 minutes. “I just wanted to come out and play to my full potential.”
Allen also logged eight rebounds and a team-best five steals for UNCP (4-7, 2-5 PBC), which forced 19 turnovers on the night and withstood a final run by Augusta (3-8, 1-6) to snap a three-game skid.
All four of the Lady Braves’ wins this year have came at home, and the fourth victory gave coach John Haskins his 275th career win, which has spanned 23-plus years across both the men’s and women’s basketball programs at UNCP. Haskins has compiled a 275-360 record overall, including a 170-197 mark at the helm of the women’s program since 2004-05.
“It’s a Peach Belt win,” Haskins said. “We needed one and we’re not going to give it back. We’re excited about that and we’re going to move on.”
Haskins said he was impressed with Allen’s mindset throughout the game.
“She was being aggressive offensively,” he said. “I tell her all of the time, even if it’s not getting shots for herself, she’s going to be able to get shots for others. … We needed it.”
Avery Locklear added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Lady Braves, with Brandi Robinson tallying 10 points and eight boards.
UNCP appeared to be in control after a 10-0 run in the final period gave the hosts a 16-point lead with 7:48 left to play. But Augusta used a slew of 3-pointers to close the game with a 24-10 run.
Locklear, Ebone Stevens and Tee Graham combined for five free throws from the 34-second mark to the 12-second mark to stretch the UNCP lead back to six at 60-54.
The Lady Jaguars cut the lead to one point with 3.6 seconds remaining and fouled Graham on the ensuing possession. She hit 1 of 2 free throws for the final tally.
“I thought we played a great first 15 minutes in the second half,” Haskins said. “For some reason, we just didn’t finish. I didn’t think we executed well down the stretch. I didn’t think we were aggressive enough — we settled for a lot of jump shots. And then we had some breakdowns defensively. I give them credit because they made three or four big 3s.”
The teams were knotted at 25-all heading into the break. Both teams struggled shooting, finishing below 40 percent from the field. But UNCP held Augusta to a 16.7 percent clip in the third quarter that helped it build a comfortable lead midway through the final period.
“We’re getting a little bit better defensively,” Haskins said.
The Lady Braves scored 18 second-chance points off 18 offensive rebounds and committed a season-low six turnovers.
But Allen knows there’s still plenty of room for improvement as UNCP prepares for a trio of road games, beginning Saturday at Columbus State.
“We’re still just trying to find that chemistry,” she said. “We have to keep working on it with these situations. It’s not going to be perfect but we have to keep working on it.”
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.