HONOLULU, Hawaii --- UTC senior Taylor Hall and sophomore Tatianna Jackson combined for 35 points but couldn’t pull the Lady Mocs out of the fire as Minnesota snared a 63-62 win in the opening game of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Classic Friday afternoon at the Stan Sheriff Center. Chattanooga drops to 4-2 on the year while the Gophers improve to 6-1 overall.
Hall posted her second double-double of the year with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Jackson, playing a career-high 38 minutes, also topped her career-high in scoring with 16 points. Senior Ashlen Dewart put in nine points and grabbed seven boards while classmate Faith Dupree added seven points and seven boards to the effort.
Trailing 63-59 with 36 seconds to play, Hall forced a turnover and converted the steal into a fast break layup to make it a two-point game, 63-61 with 34 seconds on the clock. Minnesota’s Rachel Banham missed a short jumper and Dupree gathered in the rebound. Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster called for a full time out with 3.2 seconds to play to set up the final play.
On the inbounds from in front of the Minnesota bench, Dupree lobbed a pass down the court to Jackson who was alone headed toward the basket. On her layup attempt, she was fouled and sent to the line. With just 1.5 seconds remaining, she drained the first free throw but came up short on the second and the Gophers picked up the rebound and let the clock expire.
Chattanooga struggled to start the game but were about to mount a comeback to knot it up 28-28 at the half. After trailing 20-6 with 12:04 to play in the half, UTC outscored Minnesota 22-8 over the final 7:56. Hall and Jackson combined for 17 first half points including 15 of UTC’s 22 points in the run.
However, UTC didn’t have an answer for Banham who scored a game-high 36 points, 22 in the second half alone, and led the Gophers to the narrow win. Banham, who averages a team-high 18.2 points per game, was 11-of-19 from the field and made all three of her 3-point attempts. Her effort at the free throw line was the difference maker for Minnesota. She went 11-of-12 from the charity stripe including a pair of free throws on a technical foul in the first half when it was determined a UTC player did not check into the game.
The Lady Mocs shot 25-of-61 (41%) from the field and were 3-of-14 from the 3-point line while making just 9-of-16 from the free throw line. The Gophers were 22-of-57 (38.6%) for the game and 6-of-11 from beyond the arc while making 13-of-17 from the charity stripe.
Chattanooga returns to the court Saturday against host Hawaii.