FLORENCE, S.C. — The University of North Carolina at Pembroke defense did what coach John Haskins thought would secure a Peach Belt Conference win at Francis Marion on Monday night, but the offense fell short.
Fouls, missed layups and turnovers were the nemesis for the Lady Braves’ offense in the game as Francis Marion came away with a 62-53 win.
“When you get it inside, you’ve got to finish and I thought we didn’t finish a lot of plays around the basket,” he said. “If you look at our defensive stats — outside of us fouling too much — we out-rebounded them by 14, they shot 34 percent and scored 62 points at their place. Those are all stats that ought to give us a chance to win on the road, and then you look at our stats.”
The loss takes the Peach Belt Conference East Division lead out of UNCP’s (13-6, 8-4 PBC) hands and moves it down to third behind Lander with a 7-3 conference mark and USC Aiken’s 9-4 record.
The poor offensive output came back and bit the Lady Braves in the final quarter of play, shooting 23 percent from the floor and seven turnovers put space between the teams as the game went to the close. Jonissa Monley’s bucket with 4:51 left cut the Francis Marion (10-11, 5-7 PBC) lead to 57-53, but it was UNCP’s last point of the game.
Monley finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, but also turned the ball over five times, another area of concern from the whole team. The Lady Braves turned the ball over 20 times, seven in the fourth quarter alone.
Foul trouble saddled Jasmine Huntley, Nya Allen and Brianna Baham in the game with all three guards playing sparse minutes together. Each were hit with fouls early and had their fourth fouls whistled on them in the third quarter.
“When you get your point guards in foul trouble, that will hurt you,” Haskins said. “We’ve just got to play defense without fouling, we’ve got to keep the ball in front of us and get in gaps and I think we didn’t do a good job at that.”
With foul trouble sending Haskins to his bench for backcourt relief, senior guard Arico Williams was there for the lift. The Fayetteville native had 11 points and nine boards and helped the Lady Braves dig out of a hole in the third quarter. The Lady Patriots stormed out of halftime and took a 39-30 lad with 7:17 remaining in the period, but Williams tallied seven straight for UNCP to tied the game at 45 with 2 minutes to go in the third.
“I thought she definitely gave us a spark,” Haskins said. “Effort wise she did a lot of good things for us like keeping the ball alive.”
In the first quarter, UNCP struggled behind the arc, an area that it leads the conference in shooting percentage and the 0-of-7 mark led to nine points in the period, a season low for points in a quarter. Monley and the Lady Braves responded in the second quarter, looking inside more, which led to a better offensive flow and a 28-27 halftime lead behind six points from the senior forward.
Briana Burgins had a team-high 17 points for Francis Marion.
UNCP hosts Falgler in a doubleheaders tomorrow starting with the women’s game at 5:30 p.m.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.