Queens used a balanced lineup and scoring output to hand a very good UNC Pembroke team, their first loss of the season, 80-78.
Queens raced out to a 45-34 lead at halftime. They shot 50% from 3 and 70% from the field while they kept UNC Pembroke to 16.7% (2-12) shooting from 3 for the half. They also went 8-10 from the free-throw line to UNC Pembroke’s 2-2 first-half finish.
The second half flipped everything on its side, UNC Pembroke worked the ball around, getting good looks and taking the best shots, connecting on 51.4% from the field, while holding Queens to 41.2% shooting. UNC Pembroke won the second half 44-35, but it’s those last two points that they would want back. Down 78-80 with 4 seconds to go, UNC Pembroke has the ball on the bench side just past half court. They get the ball to star Akia Pruitt, in a one-on-one situation 10 feet from the basket. The shot fell just short and Queens secured the rebound to win the game.
It was a heck of a game, which really showcased contrasting styles of play on the floor. Queens loves to push and press, while UNC Pembroke likes to work it around and get good shots, their shots.
At the end of the day, you look at the final stats, and Queens outplayed the UNC Pembroke team. Queens outrebounded them, 33-31, they made/attempted more free throws 11/16 to 5/7, they made more 3s (and shot a better percentage) 9 to 7 (39% to 28%), they assisted on more of their makes 15 of 30 to 14 of 33, and they had more steals 6 to 4. However, UNC Pembroke was able to protect the rim better 6 to 1 and the did have fewer turnovers 16 to 11.
Queens outscored UNC Pembroke in the paint, 42-32 as well as with fast-break opportunities, 12-10. That also shows that UNC Pembroke as able to dictate the pace of the game, keeping to a half-court affair. UNC Pembroke did well in points off turnovers, 22-14 as well as second-chance baskets, 14-10. Naturally, with their depth and amount of playing time Queens’ bench outscored UNC Pembroke 26-15.
With all this number mumbo jumbo above, let’s get to standouts
Pruitt was a 2-way standout in this game. Not only did he knock in 13 points, from each level, but he also had 4 blocks and a steal. His ability to move his feet defensively and protect the rim makes him an incredibly valuable asset. But also his ability to line up all over the floor and make plays offensively was hard to gameplay for. There were times in the game where he was on the block, the high post, the trail big and the wing. He finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, and a steal.
Daniel Carr is made for this, to close out these games and get these wins. He is made for the spotlight. He is a relentless downhill, paint touch point guard who wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. He hounds to ball on defense, applying great pressure with his strength and athleticism. Carr led the team in scoring with 19 points, he also added 3 assists and a steal to go along with his leadership.
The UNC Pembroke Guard Trio
While Pruitt was their best player, it was the trio of Jordan Ratliffe (a first-year VMI transfer), Tyrell Kirk and David Strother who did most of the damage. The trio of players scored 42 of the team’s 78 points while taking 33 of their 66 shots. When they needed a big shot, it was one of these three who took it or initiated it. They played great half-court defense, very active and very pressuring. The group finished shooting 51.5% from the field.
Strother finished 7-12 from the field and 4-7 from 3, for a game-high 20 points, he also had 7 boards and 3 assists. Kirk did a lot of his damage off the bounce, especially comfortable as the shot clock was winding down and his team needing a bucket. Kirk was 6-12 from the field for 12 points and 3 assists. Ratliffe did a lot of his damage down the stretch, the explosive guard had 9 points and 4 rebounds.
Queens Used Their Depth in This One
Queens put five players in double figures as Jermaine Patterson, Daniel Carr, Jamari Smith, Jay’den Turner, and Van Turner all finished with, between 10 and 19 points. They also play nine of their guys ten minutes or minutes while getting 14 different players in this game. Have these types of fresh legs wins games at the end of the day. A coach having this type of trust in his players does wonders in keeping everyone engaged.