MOCS SURGE PAST WESTERN CAROLINA, 65-51; TAKE POSSESSION OF SECOND IN SOCON STANDINGS

(GOMOCS.COM) CULLOWHEE, N.C. — The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga used a 27-point fourth quarter to surge past Western Carolina for a 65-51 win Saturday afternoon at the Ramsey Center and move into second place in the Southern Conference women’s basketball standings. The Mocs improve to 18-7 overall and 9-2 in the SoCon while the Catamounts fall to 6-19 on the year and 2-9 in conference action.

“Once we pulled up our shorts and started guarding them and making it a bit more difficult, their opportunities in the lane became non-existent,” Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster said. “Early on they were beating us off the dribble and we had to rotate to help. We told Jas not to rotate and we had to play tough, hard-nosed defense.”

The Mocs shot 92.3% (12-of-13) in the final period to outscore Western Carolina 27-10. Sophomore Keiana Gilbert (Pulaski, Tenn.) scored was 5-for-5 in the frame for 11 points and senior Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) was 3-for-3 with a 3-pointer for seven points.

“Kei is asserting herself better,” Foster said. “We ran some stuff for her and we got her the ball. She just went out and got shots and made things happen.”

Gilbert and junior Queen Alford (Decatur, Ga.) led all scorers with 16 points. Gilbert dished out a game-best four assists while Alford hit a career-high four 3-pointers. Junior Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) just missed a double-double with 13 points, nine rebounds and added five block shots.

Western Carolina came out strong to start the game and led 9-2 with 5:10 to go in the period. Gilbert started a 6-0 run for the Mocs capped off by a 3-pointer from Alford to cut the lead to 9-8, but the Cats would push back for a 15-10 lead with 2:21 to play in the quarter. The Mocs would outscore the Catamounts 7-2 to close out the first to tie it up 17-17.

The Mocs took a brief lead, 19-17, to start the second on a pair of free throws from junior Sydney Vanlandingham (Hermitage, Tenn.). That wouldn’t last long. Western Carolina outscored the Mocs 12-7 in the quarter and led 29-24 at the half.

“Credit to Western Carolina,” Foster said. “They played hard and with intensity. They played for their seniors, but we won a tough road game.” “

After the break, the Mocs started the second half with a scorching 8-0 run behind a pair of Alford 3-pointers and a fastbreak layup from Payne following a steal by the senior in the first 1:20 of the half. Western Carolina head coach Stephanie McCormick called a quick timeout to regroup.

The Catamounts continued to push in the frame and despite UTC outscoring them 14-12, WCU led 41-38 at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter would be all Mocs. Western Carolina increased its lead to 45-38 on a layup from Lindsey Burleson. The Mocs would miss their first attempt of the half, but would outscored the Cats 27-8 the rest of the way making 12-of-12 attempts in the show of force.

“For us to come in here and get a 14-point win where teams have struggled is just inspiring for us,” Foster said.

Chattanooga converted seven WCU miscues into 14 points and outscored them in the paint 16-6. Overall the Mocs edged the Catamounts 36-30 in the paint and had 21 points off 15 turnovers. The Mocs had 11 assists and just seven turnovers.

Western Carolina had a balanced scoring attack with all nine players scoring. Sharea Bonner and Ace Easter each added eight points with Bonner grabbling a team-best eight boards. Kyia Hough and Julia Brown each added seven points with Erika Joseph and Lindsay Simpson scoring six points each.

The Cats were 22-of-54 (40.7%) on the day and 2-of-5 from the 3-point line.

UTC returns to the Roundhouse to host Samford Wednesday night to begin a crucial three-game homestand. The Bulldogs fell to Mercer earlier today to fall a half game behind the Mocs to third. Chattanooga jumped to second place while the Bears remain atop the league standings.

Categories: Sports, Sports – Local Sports News

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