UTC women’s basketball coach Katie Burrows probably doesn’t believe in moral victories, but her Lady Mocs came about as close as they’re going to come to getting a win without actually doing so late Sunday afternoon.
The Lady Mocs had a final shot in the last 2.5 seconds Sunday at McKenzie Arena, but it didn’t fall and Chattanooga dropped its fourth straight game by a single point to the Austin Peay Lady Governors, 50-49.
It’s been a tough start to the season for these youthful young ladies as Sunday’s loss made them just 1-6 for the season. They’ve lost to some really good teams and by lopsided margins – the average difference being 28.4 points before Sunday – but they came within a hair of beating a team that had entered the game averaging 85.4 points per game.
Austin Peay improves to 5-1 with its third-straight win.
Chattanooga’s defense was outstanding for the most part as they held Austin Peay to a near season-low of 28.4 percent from the field as they hit only 19 of 67 shots. Only in a 76-62 loss at Illinois had the Lady Governors shot worse from the field.
While Chattanooga’s defense was a strong point, there were two areas that simply killed the Lady Mocs.
The Lady Mocs had a 44-38 advantage on the boards, but 16 of those 38 rebounds they allowed were on the offensive end. Another area was turnovers where Chattanooga had 21 ball-handling miscues in the first half alone and finished with a season-high 28.
Despite all of those negatives, the Lady Mocs still had a chance to win, but Lakelyn Bouldin’s last-second shot simply wouldn’t fall.
“They only made three more field goals than we did, but they had 23 more shots,” said Burrows in her post-game comments.
“We gave ourselves an opportunity at the end, but the shot simply didn’t fall. We were hoping to go inside to either Eboni Williams or Abbey Cornelius to either get an easy layup or to get fouled. We hit 14 of 15 free throws, so we played the odds at the end.
“I never question my team’s effort, but there are times when effort is simply not enough. I like the way we battled, but we have to battle with purpose and I’m not sure we did that the entire game. The bottom line is that we just have to keep working. I’m just glad we get to play again on Wednesday to try to correct some of these mistakes,” Burrows added.
Williams scored on a drive down the lane to give Chattanooga a 2-0 lead 15 seconds into the game and it was two charity tosses for the six-foot sophomore with 13 seconds left that allowed the game to be tied at 13-13 when the first quarter ended.
With Williams and Ruona Uwusiaba scoring four points apiece, the Lady Mocs used an 8-3 run in the first half of the second quarter to take a 21-16 lead before the Lady Governors responded with a 12-0 run, capped by a 3 by Tahanee Bennell with 39 seconds before intermission to go up 28-21.
A pair of late buckets by UTC’s Dena Jarrells trimmed the difference to 28-25 at intermission.
Bouldin canned a 3 from the baseline with 8:32 left in the third stanza to give Chattanooga the lead at 30-28.
Cornelius sank the first of two free throws with 1:16 showing to put the Lady Mocs up 38-35 before a 3 from Shay-Lee Kirby and a layup by Ella Sawyer allowed Austin Peay to regain the advantage at 40-38 with one quarter remaining.
Sawyer scored on a left-handed layup with 3:30 to play to put the visitors up 50-43 and that’s when Chattanooga began its comeback.
Cornelius, Bria Dial and Williams all sank two free throws each to get within 50-49 with just less than a minute to play.
The Lady Governors had a chance to extend their lead, but Sawyer missed four straight free throws, including the last two with 3.1 seconds left.
Cornelius got the final rebound and quickly called a timeout, giving the ball back to the Lady Mocs just inside the half-court line with 2.5 seconds.
Bouldin inbounded the ball before it was quickly passed back to her. She drove down the left side of the lane as the clock was winding down, but her shot was just off the mark as the final horn sounded.
Austin Peay coach David Midlick had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen on Chattanooga’s final possession.
“I knew that when she inbounded the ball, it was going back to her, but we were able to get the stop we needed there at the end,” he said during his post-game radio broadcast.
“We normally don’t shoot this bad and when we do, we normally take a loss. But thank goodness our defense came with us today. That was a gritty effort by our girls today and that was the difference. I can promise you we won’t score 85 points every time out, but we need to do better than this,” he added.
Arielle Gonzalez-Varner scored 18 points to lead Austin Peay after only scoring eight in the first half.
Kasey Kidwell and Sawyer both followed with seven points.
Bouldin finished with 15 points to lead the Lady Mocs while Williams was next with 12.
Williams snagged nine rebounds as Chattanooga had a 44-38 advantage on the boards. Bouldin claimed eight while Dial and Uwusiaba both had seven.
The Lady Mocs return to action with another home game Wednesday afternoon against Northern Colorado. Opening tip is set for 1 p.m.
Chattanooga still holds a commanding 32-8 lead in the series, but Sunday’s win was the first for the Lady Governors since 1997 and snapped an eight-game winning streak by the Lady Mocs.
AUSTIN PEAY 13 15 12 10 -- 50
CHATTANOOGA 13 12 13 11 -- 49
AUSTIN PEAY (50) – Booker 2, Sawyer 7, Knowles 3, Gregory, Ferby 2, Gonzalez-Varner 18, Kidwell 7, Bennell 5, Kirby 4, Crawford, Kenol 2, Leflore.
CHATTANOOGA (49) – Williams 12, Cornelius 3, Dial 2, Burks 2, Bouldin 15, Uwusiaba 6, Jarrells 6, Pene 3.
3-POINT GOALS: Austin Peay 5-31 (Sawyer 1-5, Knowles 1-4, Ferby 0-5, Kidwell 1-5, Bennell 1-6, Kirby 1-5, Crawford 0-1); Chattanoga 3-14 (Williams 0-4, Dial 0-3, Bouldin 2-5, Jarrell 0-1, Pene 1-1).
REBOUNDS: Austin Peay 38 (Sawyer 8, Gonzalez-Varner 5, Booker 4, Kidwell 4, Bennell 4); Chattanooga 44 (Williams 9, Bouldin 8, Dial 7, Uwusiaba 7, Cornelius 5).
FIELD GOALS: Austin Peay 19 of 67 for 28.4 percent; Chattanooga 16 of 44 for 36.4 percent.
3-POINT GOALS: Austin Peay 5 of 31 for 16.1 percent; Chattanooga 3 of 14 for 21.4 percent.
FREE THROWS: Austin-Peay 7 of 16 for 43.8 percent; Chattanooga 14 of 15 for 93.3 percent.
TURNOVERS: Austin Peay 13 (Bennell 6, Knowles 3); Chattanooga 28 (Williams 10, Burks 5, Jarrells 4).
STEALS: Austin Peay 15 (Ferby 4, Gonzalez-Varner 3); Chattanooga 5 (Williams 3).
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)