DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The North Georgia College & State University's women's basketball team is in the thick of their Peach Belt Conference slate and will continue to be tested in the coming weeks as they take on some stiff competition including the No. 3 team in the nation, Clayton State University.
The Saints fell just a few seconds shy of opening 2013 with a win this past Saturday, Jan. 5 as Georgia College left Memorial Hall Gymnasium with a 72-71 victory off a last second layup. The loss dropped the Saints from atop the West Division standings with Georgia College and Clayton State down to fourth below Montevallo and ahead of Young Harris.
But head coach Buffie Burson's group cannot dwell on the past as they prepare for two more tough games including the University of Montevallo traveling to Dahlonega on Thursday, Jan. 10 for a 5:30 p.m. PBC game. The Saints will then travel to Morrow, Ga. to take on nationally-ranked Clayton State on Saturday in another 5:30 p.m. league game.
Thursday's home Peach Belt Conference doubleheader is being dubbed "Greek Life Night" and will also mark a milestone for North Georgia as the new University of North Georgia logos are unveiled to the public. At 8 a.m. that same day, a pep rally will be held inside Memorial Hall Gym to unveil the new UNG logos and word marks for the first time and everybody from the school and surrounding community is invited to celebrate the milestone and formal introduction of the University of North Georgia.
Heading into this week's pair of games, the Saints (4-6, 2-1 PBC) have shot 37.1% from the field including 30.8% from three-point range. That has North Georgia averaging 61.3 points per game while their opponents have averaged 65.8 points.
Junior Jaymee Carnes paces the conference and is 11th nationally with 20.3 points and adds 9.8 rebounds per game while her 2.0 blocked shots per game has her 22nd nationally. She leads the team in shooting as she has made 40.3% of her attempts from the field, that includes making 7.5 buckets per contest. She is second on the team in three-point shooting behind freshman Molly Rainwater.
Rainwater is currently third in the league in three-point field goal percentage, making 44.4% of her three-point attempts and that has her also 19th in the nation. The Columbia, S.C. native averages 2.0 three-pointers per game and 6.6 points per outing.
Sophomore guard Stephanie Huffman is the Saints' second leading scorer with 11.3 points per game and is second on the team with 7.9 rebounds per game. Huffman enters the weekend shooting 39.5% from the field and leads the team with 3.3 assists per game.
Montevallo (8-5, 3-1 PBC) is currently third in the West Division with their lone loss in the conference having come at the hands of an Augusta State University team that has been on the rise the past few years. The Falcons are currently on a two-game winning streak since then with wins over Flagler College and Lander University to open the new year.
As a team, the Falcons are shooting 40.2% from the field, including 33.3% from three-point range which has them fifth in the PBC. They are averaging just over 66 points per game behind sophomore forward Taylor Beverly's 15.7 points per game. Beverly shoots 51.1% from the field to lead the team and also leads the team and is ninth in the conference with 7.4 rebounds per outing as she has started all but one game for Montevallo.
Behind Beverly are junior guards Alexsis Brown with 9.7 points per game and Shay Bonner with 9.1. Brown leads the team with 2.5 three-pointers per game while Trena Moore-Smith averages 8.9 points per outing and is currently fifth in the league with a 43.2% performance from three-point range. Moore-Smith also leads the team with 5.5 assists per game and is the only player to start all 13 games this season for the Falcons.
No. 3 Clayton State (11-0, 4-0 PBC) enters the week having moved ahead of the University of South Carolina Aiken in the national poll. The 2011 NCAA Division II champions, the Lakers are currently third in the conference in shooting performance (.429) but that average goes down to 25.1% from three-point range, last in the 14-team league.
The Lakers are obviously able to make it work as they boast three forwards and three centers focusing their scoring inside the arc to average 67.7 points per game compared to 49.2 points by opponents, lowest in the league.
Leading scorer Dameka Griggs is a senior guard who averages 18.5 points per outing and is also fourth in the conference for shooting percentage as she connects on 54.0% of her attempts. She has started just one game this season but has played in all 11 and is one of the first off the bench as she averages 30.6 minutes per game.
The Lakers' next-best scorer is Kayla Mobley who averages 10.0 points per outing. The senior forward is sixth in the league in rebounds with 7.9 per outing and shoots 51.8% from the field.
As always, all North Georgia's home basketball games can be followed live via live stats and a free live webcast featuring Craig Corbin and Mike Davenport located on the schedule pages on www.SaintsSports.com. Also, Glory 1330 WGTJ Radio will continue to broadcast live during games with Mike Wofford and Drew Harris and can be followed at www.glory1330.com or through the Tune in Radio app.