Lady Mocs Win SoCon Tournament Opener

Saturday, March 8, 2014

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) and freshman Aryanna Gilbert (Columbia, Tenn.) combined for 26 points to lead the Lady Mocs to a 66-57 win over Georgia Southern Saturday afternoon at the Kimmel Arena in the Southern Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

Chattanooga improved to 27-3 on the year while Georgia Southern, with a first-round win over Wofford, falls to 10-21 overall.

Leading 9-6 with 15:58 to play in the first half, Chattanooga began to pull away from the Eagles. Hall drained the second of two free throws to start a 13-0 run that lasted 5:11 in the opening frame. Senior Meghan Downes (Newnan, Ga.) drained a short jumper to give UTC a 22-6 lead with 10:19 on the clock.

Neither team was able to hit the rim over the next five-and-half minutes. However, in the final 4:43 of the first half, Georgia Southern held a 12-7 scoring advantage, including the final six points of the half, to cut UTC’s lead nearly in half. Chattanooga carried a 29-18 lead into halftime.

In the second half, UTC stretched its lead out 15 points on a 3-pointer from freshman Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) with 14:05 to play. The Eagles cut into that lead with a 15-6 scoring run over the next 4:39 to make it a six-point game, 50-44, with 9:14 remaining.

The Lady Mocs, however, stretched the lead back to double-figures scoring the next seven points. Sophomore Tatianna Jackson (Atlanta, Ga.) drained her third 3-pointer of the year, banking it off from the right side with the shot clock running out to make it 53-44 with 8:39 to play. Freshman Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) hit back to back jumpers in the lane to give UTC a 13-point lead, 57-44, with 5:09 to play.

Hall just missed a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. She added four assists and three blocked shots in 30 minutes. Gilbert tossed in 10 points and recorded five rebounds. Joyner increased her freshman single-season shot block record to 46 and is tied for sixth all-time at UTC in that category.

All 11 Chattanooga players who saw playing time, found the bucket. Senior Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) added eight points while classmate Faith Dupree (Knoxville, Tenn.) dropped in seven. The Lady Mocs shot 43.3 percent (26-60) from the field and was 4-of-17 (23.5%) from beyond the arc.

Georgia Southern’s Anna Claire Knight led all scorers with 20 points and had a team-high seven rebounds. Sierra Kirkland came off the bench for the Eagles and added 13 points and five rebounds.

Chattanooga dished out 17 assists and had just nine turnovers resulting in seven points for GSU while UTC converted 12 Eagle miscues into 11 points. The Lady Mocs outdueled Georgia Southern 38-30 on the boards with a 12-5 advantage on offensive rebounds for 10 points. Chattanooga’s bench outscored GSU 24-15.

The game was tied just twice and Chattanooga led wire-to-wire. The Lady Mocs will take on the winner of the Appalachian State/Elon game Sunday at Noon at the U.S. Cellular Center in the SoCon Tournament semifinals. Live stats, video and audio will be available at on the schedule page.


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