UNCW women’s basketball overcomes adversity in exhibition win

McLeod Brown | Sports Editor

The UNC Wilmington women’s basketball team had a rough go of it Saturday but, nonetheless, pulled out a victory in their exhibition opener over UNC Pembroke, 52-38.

After numerous key players found themselves in foul trouble early, the Seahawks were forced to change their game plan, leading to the team struggling to find their shot, finishing the game with a paltry 32% field goal percentage (21-66), including being 3-for-27 from three.

“Give UNC Pembroke some credit,” said first-year UNCW coach Adell Harris. “They pack it in. They clog that lane. They were allowing us to take those shots, so they did what they were supposed to do. At the same time, we have Karneshia Garrett sitting on the bench. We have a 5’7” Dana Brown playing the four for us. We have Diana Venezia, who was a guard all her career, playing the five for us.

“It was not ideal but, in my opinion, who cares? We can improve our shot selection, we can improve our defense, we can improve our rebounding, we can improve every aspect, but I’m just proud of our kids for finding a way.”

Garrett, who many consider to be the key to the Seahawks’ success this season, found herself with two fouls in the first 3:04 of the game. The team had to find a way to win with her sitting out.

“There’s never going to be a perfect situation,” Harris said. “I’m not going to complain about any disadvantages we may have as it relates to our depth or lack of bodies to throw in there. That’s no excuse. It is what it is and we’re just going to take what comes to us.”

A key variable in the UNCW win was junior guard Jessica Freeman, who finished with nine steals on the evening.

“Our scouting report had certain players who weren’t as good of ball handlers as most of them that we face in the CAA,” Freeman said. “So I just thought ball pressure, make them fumble it, make them nervous, and that will create the opportunity for me to get steals.”

Senior Chelsea McGowen finished with nine points and 12 rebounds, while Garrett was able to come back and finish with a double-double for the Seahawks with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“I’m proud of our kids for hanging in there, weathering the storm,” Harris said. “We had some challenges, some unexpected things happen. I told them ‘Sixty percent of what we did today we have never worked on in practice.’ That’s the nature of the game. We got our boat rocked a little bit, but we hung in there. So I’m proud of them for being resilient and finding a way to win.”