DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The University of North Georgia women's basketball team is carrying momentum with them heading into this week's Marvin Vanover Peach Belt Conference Basketball Tournament as the Saints have won their last three straight games and four of their last five.
The Saints (12-14, 10-9 PBC) will be making their third appearance in the conference tournament, but first since the 2008-09 season. In both of North Georgia's previous appearances in the PBC tournament the Saints were able to go 1-1 to give them a 2-2 record heading into this year's tourney.
In 2008, North Georgia entered the post-season tournament as the eight-seed and beat Georgia College in the opening round before falling to the No. 1 seed, Francis Marion University 84-75 in the quarterfinals. That year, North Georgia's Syretha Marble earned All-Tournament accolades.
The following year, the Saints entered the PBC tournament as the No. 9 seed and beat the University of North Carolina Pembroke in the opening round before falling 80-61, once again, to top-seeded Francis Marion.
In this year's tournament, North Georgia is one of three teams that have made the field after missing the cut last season. Also making the trip to Columbus, Ga. are Flagler College and Armstrong Atlantic State University. Returning from last year's field are No. 1 Clayton State University, No. 21 University of South Carolina Aiken, Augusta State, Columbus State University and the University of Montevallo.
North Georgia ended the regular-season 12-14 for the second straight year, but finished above .500 in PBC play for the first time since the 2005-06 season and will look to take on Augusta State University, the No. 1 seed out of the East, in the opening round of the PBC Tournament at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 7 in Columbus, Ga.
As a team, the Saints are currently fourth in the league in scoring and field goal percentage and are the second-best rebounding team behind the All-PBC trio of Jaymee Carnes, Mimi Hill and Stephanie Huffman.
Carnes, who earned All-PBC First Team for the second time in as many years this week, is tied for 31st in nation in scoring with 18.0 points per game and also brings down 9.5 boards. She shoots 44.8% from the field for the season.
Hill, the PBC Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Monday, Feb. 25 and an All-PBC Second Team member, is second on the team with 13.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game as she shoots 51.2% from the field. She enters this week's tournament playing some of the best basketball of the season as she has worked her way into 10th in the league in points per game, ninth in rebounding and fifth in field goal percentage.
Huffman, a 2013 PBC All-Academic selection and member of the All-PBC Third Team, averages 11.9 points and 6.5 rebounds as a guard. She shoots 42.4% from the field and averages a team-best 37.2 minutes per game as she has played all 40 minutes in 13 contests this season.
The Saints will play Augusta State in the tournament's first quarterfinal game on Thursday. The Jaguars (21-5, 14-5 PBC) have reached the 20-wins mark for first time since 2007-08 season and earned the East Division's top seed.
The two programs met once earlier this season in Dahlonega with the Jaguars escaping Memorial Hall Gymnasium with a 54-52 win despite North Georgia shooting better from the field. The Saints shot 43.2% (19-44) from the field and 33.3% (5-15) from three-point range but the Jaguars made four more shots than the Saints while going 23-63 (36.5%) from the field.
In that game, Carnes and Taylor Ayers each scored 14 points with Carnes earning a double-double with 11 rebounds, all off the defensive glass.
Ayers leads Augusta State with 11.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while Jemimah Ashby is close behind with 11.5 points per outing. Both Ayers and Ashby shoot over 46% from the field while Tanchelle Hollingsworth is third on the team with 10.0 points per game.
The Peach Belt will provide live stats and a free live webcast of all the games from Thursday through Sunday. Additionally, Glory 1330 WGTJ will air all of North Georgia's games in the tournament. Games can be heard on the radio at AM-1330, online through the "Listen Live" link on the home page of the station's website, www.glory1330.com, and/or on any smart phone or tablet with the "Tune In Radio" application.
Following the matchup between North Georgia and Augusta State, Flagler College and Montevallo will tangle at 3:00 p.m. with Armstrong Atlantic and No. 1 Clayton State following at 5:00 p.m. Host-school Columbus State and USC Aiken will wrap up the first day of competition with a 7:00 p.m. game.
Follow all the action live at the official 2013 Peach Belt Conference Tournament site found HERE.