UNCP Heads To Florida For Pivotal PBC Matchup
PEMBROKE – The UNCP basketball teams will venture on their final regular season road trip to battle Peach Belt Conference East Division rival Flagler for a vital matchup on Saturday at Flagler Gymnasium in St. Augustine, Fla.
The Lady Braves (11-14, 7-10 PBC) used an impressive 51.6 percent shooting from the field combined with four players gathering double-digit scoring to push past Armstrong Atlantic, 82-53, on Wednesday evening. The victory secured postseason play for the Lady Braves who notched the fourth spot in the PBC's East Division. The Black and Gold were 32-of-62 from the field, led by junior DeDe Cotton, who collected team-bests in scoring and rebounding with 17 points and eight boards. Seniors JaToya Kemp and Briana Stanton tallied 15 and 14 points, respectively, while grabbing seven rebounds apiece. Domonique Washington was the fourth player to gather double digits with 10 points while also dishing out six assists.
Kemp averages team bests with 14.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and also leads UNCP in blocks with 25. Washington averages 8.4 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and holds team-bests in steals and assists with 34 and 84, respectively. Stanton contributes 10.3 points per game and 5.4 rebounds and the Lady Braves shoot 41.2 percent from the field and 68.8 percent from the charity stripe as a unit.
Flagler (6-19, 3-14 PBC) comes in having lost two straight, first to nationally-ranked Lander on Saturday, 89-51, before turning around and being defeated by Francis Marion, 74-50, on Wednesday. Charlsea Owen tallied a team-high 10 points against Lander while the team committed a season-high 36 turnovers in the game and were held to four baskets in the second half. In the matchup against Francis Marion, the Saints shot on 24 percent from the field in the first half and committed 27 turnovers, of which 27 points were converted for Francis Marion. Shelbi Lindsey collected 11 points while Jen Knurek added nine points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Tierra Ford leads the Saints in scoring as she averages 11.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while leading the team in steals with 54. Owen registers 9.2 points while Adrienne Donelson and Knurek contribute 8.5 and 7.0 points per game, respectively. Donelson leads the team in rebounding with 6.1 boards per game. The Saints shoot 37.9 percent from the field and 67.5 from the charity stripe.
The Lady Braves and the Saints will meet for the fourth time in the all-time series with the Lady Braves holding a 2-1 lead. Earlier this season, UNCP used four players in double figures to take a 79-59 victory for its second-consecutive victory in the series.
The UNCP Braves (15-10, 8-9 PBC) continue to push forward towards a spot in the PBC Tournament and moved closer to that goal with an 89-65 dismantling of visiting Armstrong Atlantic on Wednesday evening.
In that matchup, the Braves used a season-high +27 rebounding margin to hold a 32-13 advantage on second-chance points despite shooting just 36.6 percent (26-71) from the field. The Braves also limited their turnovers (12), used a 38-26 advantage on points in the paint and made 34-of-48 free throw attempts in securing the right to control their own destiny for a chance to participate in the conference tournament.
The incentive for the Braves is easy, win and you're in for the first time since 2008. If the Braves lose, the tiebreakers get complicated. Luckily, they are broken down by the PBC in a press release that can be found HERE.
UNCP is led in scoring by sophomore Shahmel Brackett, who has notched 20 or more points on five occasions this year and heads into the matchup averaging 14.4 per game and 13.6 per game during league play. Senior Chris Hargrove follows Brackett with an average of 11.7 points per game with an average of 13.1 during PBC contests.
The Braves are ranked eighth nationally in rebounding margin, and leading the charge is sophomore George Blakeney with a team-high 6.2 boards per contest. As a squad, UNCP boasts seven players averaging 4.0 or more rebounds per game.
Sophomore K.J. Cooper leads the team with 80 assists on the year and Blakeney and junior Nathan Priest have notched 35 and 30 blocks, respectively, for a squad that is currently ranked 24th in the country in blocks per game.
The Saints (10-15, 4-13 PBC) enter the matchup having lost 12 of their last 13 games and are 1-4 in their last five. They are led in scoring by senior John Pietkiewicz at 17.7 points per game and he also leads the PBC in 3-pointers made with 85. He finished 8-of-14 from downtown in the earlier matchup between the two squads this season, a 110-107 triple-overtime Braves' win in Pembroke, and set a new Flagler single-game scoring mark with 41 points.
Senior point guard D.J. Augustine currently leads the nation with an average of 9.2 assists per game, a title he a also carried last season, and he leads the PBC with 229 assists – 81 more than Timmy Downs of Clayton State who is currently second.
The Braves are 3-0 all-time against the Saints with the biggest matchup to-date happening on Saturday.