Sunday, March 2, 2014
- by B.B. Branton
"It's been a great ride. Not many freshmen get to play with such great seniors."
-- UTC Freshman Chelsey Shumpert on UTC posting an 18-0 regular season mark in the Southern Conference
Whether Chattanooga women's basketball players are proficient at the game of pool is unknown, but on the court they understand the term "run the table."
Playing on Senior Day at McKenzie Arena, UTC (26-3, 18-0) defeated UNC-Greensboro, 77-56, to complete a perfect 18-0 Southern Conference record and head to the SoCon tournament later this week as the regular season champs and No.1 seed.
SoCon Tourney First Game: The Lady Mocs take on the Ga. Southern-Wofford winner Saturday at noon in Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C.
This is the fourth time in 11 years a UTC team has posted a perfect SoCon regular season record with the other three times coming in 2004 (20-0), followed by 2006 (18-0) and 2008 (18-0).
"It's hard to win all your conference games and if you do it means you showed up every night," said UTC women's coach Jim Foster. "You have to be ready every game because you are the team everyone else relishes in beating."
Making sure UNCG (7-22, 3-15) did not celebrate on the McKenzie Arena were five UTC seniors who combined for 30 points, 20 rebounds and 17 assists.
Senior Taylor Hall led the way with 10 points, nine boards, a career-best nine steals and seven assists.
Ashlen Dewart contributed with seven points and five rebounds and was joined by other seniors Alex Black (3 pts., 3 assists), Meghan Downes (4 pts., 4 assists) and Faith Dupree (6 pts, 3 rebs.)
Fast Start: UTC was 5 of 8 from the field (62.5%) and led 12-5 at 15:40, was 16 of 24 (66.7%) and up 16 at 38-22 with 3:18 before intermission and led by 13 at the break - 42-29 (18-30, 60%).
"We had a lot of energy early on and it showed on offense," said Foster.
Freshman starting guard Chelsey Shumpert echoed coach Foster's comments, stating, "We came out with lots of energy and wanted to play well for the seniors."
Shumpert started strong with back-to-back 3-pointers to give UTC a 6-2 lead at 18:21. Eleven minutes later, she added a third trey for a 26-18.
Second Half: The Mocs never let the lead slip to single digits in the final 20 minutes, led by a high of 23 at 68-45 at 5:18 and won by 21.
UNCG was led by Janae' Stevenson and Lucy Mason sharing game-high honors with 17 points, while Stevenson also had a game-high 11 boards. Jazmine Missouri contributed with six points and two assists.
Changing of the Guard: At 3:09 remaining, UTC seniors Black, Dewart, Downes, Dupree and Hall walked off the McKenzie Arena floor for the final time to a standing ovation from appreciative fans and teammates and freshmen, Aryanna Gilbert, Whitney Hartlage, Moses Johnson, Jasmine Joyner and Chelsey Shumpert too over.
Not a Senior Day Fan: “I hate Senior Day,” Foster said to the media following the post-game introduction of the UTC seniors. “Why
would I like to see Taylor [Hall], Ashlen [Dewart], Faith [Dupree], Meghan
[Downes] and Alex [Black] leave? That’s the last time you’ll have those players
on your court.”
94 Wins: The UTC seniors have helped the Lady Mocs to 94 wins in four years with plenty of work to do with the SoCon tourney later this week.
2013-14 ... 26-3
2012-13 ... 29-4
2011-12 ... 22-10
2010-11 ... 17-14
4 years ... 94-31
Plenty of Win Streaks
39 - nation's best home court win streak
34 - consecutive SoCon wins
22 - consecutive wins this season
22 - coach Jim Foster's longest personal win streak since taking over as head coach at St. Joseph's for the 1978-79 season
18 - consecutive SoCon wins this season
Chattanooga 77, UNCG 56
UNCG 29 - 27 -- 56
UTC 42 - 35 -- 77
Records: UTC (26-3, 18-0), UNCG (7-2, 3-15)
contact B.B. Branton at firstname.lastname@example.org
With Coach Jim Foster looking on, Senior Alex Black launches a three-point shot from the corner.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt