On a night highlighted in pink for cancer awareness as well as senior night honoring two of their own, the Chattanooga Lady Mocs posted an impressive 81-39 Southern Conference win against Western Carolina Saturday night at McKenzie Arena before an announced crowd of 2,763.
Honored before the game on Senior Night, Kayla Christopher did not disappoint her fans with a game-high 15 point performance along with three assists to lead the league-leading Mocs who improved to 24-3 overall and 17-1 in the SoCon.
Senior running mate Kylie Lambert also started,contributing four points, three rebounds and three assists.
Western Carolina (7-19, 5-12) was led by Erika Joseph with 10 points and five rebounds, followed by Lindsay Simpson with seven points.
While the Lady Mocs could do little wrong with a balanced attack of points (81), rebounds (50) and assists (20), a talented, U.S.-touring Chinese unicyclist known as “Red Panda” was flawless during halftime, balancing 15 bowls on her head.
"Anytime you can out score and out rebound your opponent the way we did tonight makes for a good evening,” said UTC coach Wes Moore. “They out rebounded us (by nine) at their place earlier in the season so it was good to get 50 boards tonight.”
Playing in pink shoes (cancer awareness night) and their standard home whites, the Lady Mocs came out a little sluggish – three points in the opening five minutes – but were strong the remaining 35.
“We did start a little sluggish, but overall I couldn’t ask for a better game with a big win on senior night,” said Christopher.
In the opening 20 minutes, the Blue and Gold used a strong defense to hold the Catamounts to 11 first half points, while the offense rang up 41 - the most since the Blue and Gold scored 42 opening half points in a 72-50 home win against Jacksonville State on Dec. 12 – plus 27 boards and eight assists.
After a 2-2 tie at 17:58, the hosts went on a 27-7 run in a 10-minute period to lead 29-9 (7:19) highlighted by Faith DuPree’s nine points off the bench and seven more from Christopher.
The Blue and Gold closed the half strong with a 16-0 run (41-9) in six minutes and led 41-11 at intermission.
The 11 points is a season-best allowed by the Lady Mocs for a half. The previous low was 16, also scored by Western Carolina in the first half of a 70-43 UTC win on Jan.20.
Perfect From 3–Point Land – On a Unicycle: While the Mocs shot an impressive 52.9% from the field in the first half, halftime entertainer Red Panda from China was perfect on her unicycle - 15-for-15 - as she balanced a series of bowls on her head - from ironically 10 feet above the McKenzie Arena floor - kicking them with one foot in five different sequences and wearing high heels.
Performing in her sixth of eight shows this week, Red Panda, who trained seven years as a child to perfect her trade, said that she usually limits her show to a maximum of five bowls, one kick at a time, but has on occasion reached a career-best six-bowl performance.
She also performed at halftime of the men’s game tonight and displayed her talents here in 2010 when Davidson and Stephan Curry were in town.
Second Half Much of the Same: The Lady Mocs were consistent in the second half scoring 40 points with 23 rebounds and 12 assists.
Senior Tribute: Coach Moore put Christopher and Lambert back in the game in the final two minutes and had Lambert exit a minute later quickly followed by Christopher to the cheers of the home crowd.
One Assist For 200: Kylie Lambert needs one assist in Monday’s game with Davidson for 200 for a career.
Fewest Points Allowed Since ... The last time the Lady Mocs held their opponents to under 40 was 38 in a 69-38 win against Furman, Mar 3, 2012 in an opening round SoCon tourney game.
Most Points Scored Since ... UTC defeated Furman 83-40, earlier this season (Dec.1).
Next Game: Mon. Feb. 25 UTC hosts Davidson 7 p.m. McKenzie Arena .. final home game of regular season
Lady Mocs Recognize Seniors
Bookend senior guards - Kayla Christopher and Kylie Lambert – were honored tonight for four seasons of leadership as the Lady Mocs are two wins from a regular season Southern Conference title.
The east Tennessee natives have led UTC to a four year overall mark of 82-40 and one SoCon tourney title in 2010 and an impressive home mark of 47-9, including a current 25 straight win streak. UTC can set a school record for consecutive wins with a victory Monday night at home against Davidson.
Highlighted by an opening season 80-71 home triumph against Tennessee, Christopher (11 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds) and Lambert (7 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) were key components in that historic win.
The Lady Mocs duo were both all-state in high school and are FCA scholarship recipients with UTC.
“My relationship with Christ is the most important thing in my life and I want to glorify Him on and off the court,” said Christopher who grew up learning the game from her mother (her high school coach) and her grandfather.
“My involvement with FCA here at UTC has been a great help to me in my Christian walk.”
Kayla and Kylie, each with one double-double (pts./rebs.) this season, opened their college careers with a SoCon championship and NCAA appearance (2009-10) and would like make it a matching bookend this season with another post-SoCon ring and post-season run.
CHATTANOOGA 81, WESTERN CAROLINA 39
WESTERN CAROLINA (7-19, 5-12 SoCon)
JOSEPH, Erika 5-9 0-2 10; SIMPSON, Lindsay 3-8 0-0 7; CAMPBELL, Makensey 2-6
0-0 5; TERRY, Shauna 2-5 0-0 4; MCKINNEY, Janae' 2-3 0-0 4; HUNNICUTT,
Diamond 2-6 0-0 4; ABRAHAM, Alex 1-5 1-2 3; BURLESON, Lindsey 1-1 0-0 2;
STEWART, Melanie 0-0 0-0 0; LYON, Kristen 0-1 0-0 0; WAKAMA, Rena 0-3 0-0 0;
LANE, Ali 0-4 0-0 0; THACKER, Nancy 0-0 0-0 0; HADEN, Hana 0-1 0-0 0. Totals
18-52 1-4 39.
CHATTANOOGA (24-3, 17-1 SoCon)
CHRISTOPHER, Kayla 6-10 0-0 15; DOWNES, Meghan 4-10 2-3 13; DEWART, Ashlen
6-9 0-1 12; JACKSON, Tatianna 5-8 0-1 10; DUPREE, Faith 4-5 1-1 9; PAYNE,
Alicia 3-5 0-0 7; BRAMBLETT, Destiny 1-9 2-4 5; HALL, Taylor 2-3 1-1 5;
LAMBERT, Kylie 2-6 0-0 4; FREEMAN, Kayla 0-0 1-2 1; BLACK, Alex 0-3 0-0 0.
Totals 33-68 7-13 81.
Western Carolina.............. 11 28 - 39
Chattanooga................... 41 40 - 81
3-point goals--Western Carolina 2-12 (SIMPSON, Lindsay 1-3; CAMPBELL,
Makensey 1-4; WAKAMA, Rena 0-1; LANE, Ali 0-3; HADEN, Hana 0-1), Chattanooga
8-23 (DOWNES, Meghan 3-7; CHRISTOPHER, Kayla 3-5; BRAMBLETT, Destiny 1-2;
PAYNE, Alicia 1-2; HALL, Taylor 0-1; LAMBERT, Kylie 0-1; BLACK, Alex 0-2;
JACKSON, Tatianna 0-2; DEWART, Ashlen 0-1). Fouled out--Western
Carolina-None, Chattanooga-None. Rebounds--Western Carolina 23 (JOSEPH,
Erika 5), Chattanooga 50 (HALL, Taylor 10). Assists--Western Carolina 12
(JOSEPH, Erika 2; HADEN, Hana 2; WAKAMA, Rena 2; CAMPBELL, Makensey 2),
Chattanooga 20 (PAYNE, Alicia 5). Total fouls--Western Carolina 17,
Chattanooga 8. Technical fouls--Western Carolina-None, Chattanooga-None.
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com
Senior Kayla Christopher was one of four Lady Mocs in double figures.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt