Solid Defensive Effort Not Enough as UTC Women Fall to Furman
(gomocs.com) CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team fell 50-45 to Furman in Southern Conference action at the McKenzie Arena Thursday night. The loss drops the Mocs to 15-10 on the year and 6-5 against the league, just one half game ahead of the Paladins who move to 16-11 overall and 6-6 in conference action.
“We had three terrific days of practice,” Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster said. “Everything you could want to happen in practice happened. Ball movement, intensity, play hard. All the things.”
The Mocs put three in double figures led by seniors Keiana Gilbert with 13 points and six rebounds and Aryanna Gilbert with 12 points and six boards. Arianne Whitaker snared a game-best 15 rebounds and added two blocked shots while sophomore Lakelyn Bouldin chipped in 11 points for Chattanooga.
“It’s not often you lose a game when you hold a team to 30 percent from the field,” Foster said. “I didn’t think people coming off the bench were prepared. It’s time for this team to take responsibility for who we are because who we are right now is not good enough.”
The Mocs held the Paladins to 29.8 percent shooting but it was the free throw line that proved the difference. Furman was 19-of-20 from the charity stripe on 17 Chattanooga fouls. Cierra Carter was 10-of-10 from the line and led all scorers with 18 points and six rebounds. She was the only Paladin to score in double figures. Celena Taborn and Stepahania Oramas each added nine points and Kaitlyn Duncan had a team-best eight rebounds.
Both teams got out to a slow start and it would be just a one-point game after the first 10 minutes with UTC leading 10-9. The Mocs took a 21-18 lead into intermission after shooting 32 percent over the first half. Furman was just 2-of-15 (13.3%) in the second quarter, but kept it close making 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
The Paladins stepped up the effort in the second half shooting 10-of-23 and making all nine free throw attempts. Chattanooga made 11-of-33 in the half and made its only two 3-pointers of the game in the final 20 minutes.
With 10 minutes to play, Furman held a slim 33-32 lead on the Mocs. Celena Taborn hit a layup to start the fourth quarter to stretch the Paladin lead to 35-32. UTC went 0-for-3 over the next 2:16 and had a turnover before Furman added another basket to push the lead to 37-32 with 7:21 to play.
Junior Molly Melton was inserted into the lineup and the Mocs got a bank shot from Whitaker, cutting the lead to three points then Melton followed that with a steal and a fastbreak layup, to cut the Paladin lead to 37-36 with 6:43 remaining.
She then forced another turnover and was immediately fouled but UTC couldn’t take advantage of the momentum, missing back-to-back 3-pointers. Furman went on a 9-0 run for its largest lead of the game, 46-36 with 2:19 remaining.
Chattanooga would once again slash into the lead with six straight points from its three leading scorers to make it 46-42 with 59.1 seconds on the clock.
The Mocs put Furman at the line for four shots in the final minute and the Paladins converted all four. A 3-pointer from Aryanna gilbert in the final seconds got it to the final, 50-45.
This was the Paladins first win in Chattanooga since the 2001-02 season and the first time they swept the Mocs in that same time frame.
Chattanooga will close out the home slate Saturday at 2:00 p.m. against Wofford in game one of a doubleheader with the Mocs’ men’s team. The Mocs will honor its four seniors, Aryanna Gilbert, Keiana Gilbert, Anna Claire Noblit and Chase Clounch, following the game.