UWG Women 1

Kayla Carter and the University of West Georgia women's basketball team are focused on slowing down one of the nation's top offenses when they welcome No. 24 North Alabama to The Coliseum on Saturday for a 2 p.m. Gulf South Conference showdown.

Jessica Gallagher/Times-Georgian

One of the most high-powered offensive attacks in all of Division II is storming into The Coliseum on Saturday.

And the focus for the University of West Georgia women's basketball team is finding a way to slow down No. 24 North Alabama in what could be the last meeting between the longtime Gulf South Conference rivals in the 2 p.m. matinee.

"They're very skilled and they're off to a great start. They're a great offensive team and they're going to play fast. It's going to be interesting to see what we do with that," UWG head coach Scott Groninger said.

The Lions (14-1, 7-1 GSC) feature sophomore triplets Emma, Ella and Ivy Wallen, who are part of Alabama high school lore after leading Lauderdale County High School to five straight state championships from 2012-16, which included an 84-game winning streak during that stretch.

Ivy and Emma serve as the cornerstones to UNA's successful turnaround over the past two seasons with Ivy dishing out a nation-best 10.2 assists per game to go along with 16.6 points an outing, which ranks fourth in the GSC. Emma, meanwhile, plays on the wing and is No. 2 in the GSC in scoring at 19.7 points per game.

Overall, North Alabama boasts the No. 1 scoring offense in the Gulf South and ranks fourth nationally at 86.3 points per game, while yielding just 57.9 on the other end of the court.

Groninger said it'll be imperative that his ballclub keeps up offensively, but he stressed that it can't play into UNA's hands, either.

"There's both sides of the ball. You can't take tough, quick shots, you can't turn the ball over. Those all feed into what they like to do in transition," Groninger said. "We've got to go into this game knowing we've got to score the ball. But I think our players are pretty excited about playing it, as well. It should be a fun game."

The Wolves (9-5, 5-2) are coming off a 72-44 league win over Auburn-Montgomery on Tuesday to snap a three-game skid.

Groninger didn't necessarily think his squad played poorly during the stretch, which included a narrow road loss at No. 19 Union on Jan. 2, although he was glad to see it bounce back after a frustrating performance against Christian Brothers two days later.

"We played really well against Union. Just a couple of tough things happened down the stretch, but CBU we didn't feel like we played well. Not to take anything away from Christian Brothers, because I thought they played well," Groninger said. "But Tuesday was nice to see us making shots and scrambling around a little bit more than we've done the last three games."

Now that the holiday break is in the rearview mirror and the team can get back into a routine through the rest of January and into February, Groninger said this is the time where teams really begin to separate themselves and make a push for the top of the standings.

"Now is when conference games really become important and you've got to show up and do the things you do well and hopefully take away some of the things that your opponent does well," Groninger said.

And just like with the men's program, the UWG women have enjoyed a tremendous run of battles against North Alabama through the years. Groninger is hoping to go out with a 'W' in what could very well be the final meeting on Saturday.

"We've won some crazy games here, for sure. With them moving on to Division I, this will be the last time we play unless we play them in the tournament. We definitely want to go out on a win with them," Groninger said.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.