The Lady Braves took on the Lakers of Clayton State University to jostle for one of the final seeds in the Peach Belt Conference tournament at the Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court on Jan. 20.
After UNCP trailed by three points at halftime (35-32), the home team started to execute better offensively. The Black and Gold began the fourth quarter with a one-point lead and held that point margin until 37 seconds were left.
Unfortunately, CSU’s Takwana Bland pulled up and sank what was ultimately the game winning shot. Despite hitting 12 of their final 17 shots, Bland’s 3-pointer was all the Lakers needed to secure a 71-69 victory.
Nyla Allen steadily built upon her stellar senior season with 22 points, one point shy of her career best. Allen was 7-of-9 shooting from the floor, an impressive 8-of-10 from the free throw line and led the team in total rebounds with nine, nearly notching her sixth career double-double.
Redshirt senior transfer Kasey Drayton set a career high with 11 points and shot 5-of-8 from the field. Jillian Ebron set a new career best and tied Drayton for the second most points in the game and only missed one shot.
Head coach John Haskins believed that his team did not play or execute particularly well on neither offense nor defense in the first half, but admitted that his team kept the game close by playing tough in the paint and on the glass.
“I thought turnovers late hurt us and we executed a couple times and got around the rim, but just couldn’t finish,” head coach John Haskins said. “We missed some free throws earlier in the half also that could’ve given us a little bit more separation.”
He thought that his team did not rotate properly or efficiently enough to play zone defense, which allowed Clayton to make long-range shots, but Haskins praised the effort made by this players in the second half.
“At half time I thought Kasey and Aliyah [Farmer] both gave us some great lift off the bench, both of them played extremely well,” he said. “Nyla attacked like she usually does and played good and made some shots, she attacked the basket.”