NEWARK, Delaware – Everything Coach Karen Barefoot and the UNCW women’s basketball team has done over the last five months has been for this moment – the Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Championship.
The Seahawks, who earned the third seed in the 10-team tournament, begin their quest at the program’s first CAA crown on Thursday, Mar. 13, when they face sixth-seeded Northeastern in a quarterfinal game at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center at 7:30 p.m.
UNCW, which closed the regular season with an 18-11 overall record and an 11-7 mark in league play, won three of its final four games after posting a 66-62 victory over the College of Charleston last Friday night.
Redshirt junior guard GiGi Smith posted her third double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds while sophomore forward Paige Powell added a career-high 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line.
Smith, the only UNCW player to start all 29 games, earned Second-Team All-CAA notice after finishing the regular season as the seventh-leading scorer in the league at 15.3 points per game. Redshirt senior guard Shrita Parker joined Smith on the All-CAA Second Team while junior guard Lacey Suggs received a nod on the All-CAA Third Team.
Northeastern brings a 19-10 overall record and a 9-9 mark into Thursday’s quarterfinal contest after completing the regular season with road victories over Elon and William & Mary last weekend. The Huskies finished the regular season with a four-game win streak, which included an 83-54 win over UNCW on Mar. 1.
Senior guard Jess Genco earned a spot on the All-CAA First Team after averaging 17.3 points per game, which ranked second in the CAA. The Scranton, Pa., product also paced the circuit by scoring 30 or more points six times, including a career-high 35 points against Charleston on Mar. 3.
Thursday’s Starting Five
Just the Facts – The Seahawks are 19-34 all-time in the CAA Championship, including an 11-12 record since 2007.
This One Goes to Eleven – UNCW’s 11 CAA victories in the regular season are the team’s most since 2011-12 when the Seahawks authored an identical 11-7 record in league play.
Don’t Count Them Out – UNCW has overcome a deficit in 9 of its 11 CAA wins this season, including a 16-point deficit at Elon on Jan. 13.
Follow the Leader – Senior center Chinyere Bell leads the CAA with a .577 field goal percentage.
Sweet 16 – Redshirt junior guard GiGi Smith has scored in double figures in 16 consecutive games and has netted 10 or more points in 28-of-29 contests this season.
Up Next: A win over Northeastern moves UNCW into the semifinals on Friday, Mar. 15, at 4 p.m. against either Drexel or William & Mary.