FLORENCE S.C. — After showing promise of turning the corner defensively in its last five contests, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke women’s basketball coach John Haskins saw his team go back to its old form on Wednesday night.
UNCP was outscored by 20 in the second half on the road at Francis Marion to drop the Peach Belt Conference contest, 82-63, as the Lady Patriots had three players score more than 20 points and shot nearly 42 percent from the floor as a team.
“I thought we were improving. We went through those five games prior to Clayton State where we were giving up 58 (points) a game,” Haskins said. “Before Christmas I think we were giving up 72.5 a game. I thing we made strides, but we regressed tonight defensively.”
UNCP (6-10, 4-8 PBC) struggled to find the bottom of the net in the second half as Francis Marion (12-5, 9-3 PBC) came out from halftime and controlled the third quarter on both sides of the ball.
Khai Chandler came alive for the Lady Patriots in the third, scoring eight in an 11-3 run to start the frame, after being held to four points in the first half. She finished the game with 22 points.
Coming in, Haskins knew slowing down Chandler, Abigail Bullock and Shaunice Fulmore was a point of emphasis, with the trio accounting for 75 percent of the team’s scoring.
“We didn’t do a very good job. I just think that Bullock had an unbelievable game,” Haskins said. “Even when we were contesting shots, she hit shots. Containing them is about as good as you can do, but the x-factor was probably Bullock.”
Bullock scored a game-high 34 point and Fullmore added 20.
Francis Marion outscored UNCP 26-9 in the third quarter. During that period, UNCP hit three shots from the floor.
“It was a bad third quarter where we couldn’t score and they just went off,” Haskins said.
Francis Marion forced 10 UNCP turnovers in the first half, while the Lady Braves shot 48 percent from the floor to take a 39-38 halftime lead on the road. In the first half, UNCP used the scoring of Melanie Horne and Nyla Allen to build a 22-17 lead after the first quarter that was trimmed to one point by halftime.
Horne score all of her 13 points in the first half in a perfect 5-for-5 shooting from the floor with three 3-pointers.
“She shot it good in practice yesterday,” Haskins said. “She got in a bit of a slump earlier in the year and hopefully she’s got that shooting touch back.”
UNCP’s offense started flowing through the post more in the second half, after attempting seven 3-pointers in the first half. With the ball started going inside, shots weren’t going in as regularly as in the first half, and the Lady Braves shot 30 percent from the floor.
“I told our girls that if we made our chippies around the basket, that’s a competitive game,” he said. “We missed a lot of easy ones around the basket and we went 3-for-15 in the third quarter. That makes a difference.”
Allen led UNCP with 17 points.
UNCP continues its two-game road trip to Flagler on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. tip.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.