Saturday was a pretty good day for the Chattanooga Lady Mocs.
Facing the Lady Buccaneers from East Tennessee State University in the first Southern Conference basketball game of the season, the Lady Mocs took care of business as they led from the start to win their fourth straight game with a comfortable 66-51 victory over ETSU.
Chattanooga connected on 48.9 percent of its shots from the floor by hitting 23 of 47 and the Lady Mocs sank six of 17 from long range for 35.3 percent.
And while the Lady Mocs played better than average on offense, it was their effort on defense that may have been most impressive.
The Lady Bucs hit just 20 of 65 field goals for a cool 30.8 percent and only five of 15 from long rage for 33.3 percent, but Mykia Dowdell and Jakhyia Davis – ETSU’s top two scorers – were both held scoreless.
That fact wasn’t lost on Lady Mocs coach Katie Burrows, whose main focus in game preparation was limiting their productivity.
“We really harped on not letting her get comfortable,” said Burrows about Dowdell, whose mother Tammy played for the Lady Mocs back in the early 90s and finished her career with more than 1,000 points.
“She’s young and will learn how to adapt, but we did a good job of not letting her do what she does best. But I thought we stayed disciplined on defense. Bria (Dial) and Eboni (Williams) are both experienced players and do a nice with their individual roles, but we have a bunch of kids who compliment them well.
“We knew this was our first conference game against our in-state rival and we know that everyone is gunning for us. We just have to gut it out on every single second and to maintain our intensity.
“I like the direction this team is headed. We haven’t arrived yet, but we’re on our way. The train is rolling,” Burrows concluded her post-game comments.
ETSU coach Brittney Ezell, who grew up just outside Nashville in Franklin and later played at Alabama, liked the way her team rebounded, but not much else was positive.
“I thought we rebounded well, especially on the offensive end, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” she said in her post-game comments on the ETSU radio broadcast.
“We got off to a slow start offensively and it was difficult for us to find a rhythm. The game was sloppy, but give UTC credit as they made some big shots. I don’t think we played poorly and we didn’t play great, but we’re young and we just have to keep growing,” she added.
By the time ETSU’s Amaya Adams scored on an inside move with 4:50 left in the opening stanza, the Lady Mocs had already the game’s first seven points.
A 3 by Shynia Jackson just ahead of the buzzer cut Chattanooga’s lead to 12-11 at the first break.
Those points, coming in the middle of an 11-0 run by the Lady Bucs, gave the visitors from Johnson City their only lead when E’Lease Stafford canned a 3 from the wing in the first 30 seconds of the second quarter.
Jackson added a layup 20 seconds later for a 16-12 ETSU advantage, but that didn’t last long as Chattanooga responded with an 8-0 run, including two 3s from Dial and a left-handed layup by Williams with 7:27 left before intermission that gave Chattanooga a 20-16 lead.
The Lady Mocs never trailed again.
A 33-29 halftime lead stretched to 40-29 in the first four minutes of the third quarter and the Lady Bucs never got any closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Dial scored 20 points to lead Chattanooga while Williams was next with 18. The junior from Hoover, Alabama also had a season-high 15 rebounds.
Dena Jarrells was the only other player for UTC in double figures as she finished with a dozen points, all coming in the second half.
Carly Hooks scored 13 points to lead the ETSU attack while Jackson was next with a dozen.
The Lady Bucs had a 41-32 edge on the boards, including 18 on the offensive end. Adams led the way with eight while Dowdell had six and Imani Williams five.
Williams’ 15 was tops for Chattanooga while Abbey Cornelius snagged seven.
The Lady Mocs take their four-game winning streak on the road for a Saturday game at Furman while ETSU will play at Wofford on Thursday.
Saturday's win was Chattanooga's third straight over the Lady Bucs.
EAST TENNESSEE 11 18 10 12 -- 51
CHATTANOOGA 12 21 18 15 -- 66
ETSU (51) – Dowdell, Davis, Hooks 13, Upton 5, Sanders 6, Adams 6, Williams 2, Jackson 12, Stafford 3, Moore 4, Carrington.
CHATTANOOGA (66) – Williams 18, Cornelius 4, Olafsdottir 1, Dial 20, Pugh 3, Jarrells 12, Hill, Searcy 6, Hampel 2.
FIELD GOALS: ETSU 20 of 65 for 30.8 percent; UTC 23 of 47 for 48.9 percent.
FREE THROWS: ETSU 6 of 10 for 60 percent; UTC 14 of 19 for 73.7 percent.
3-POINT GOALS: ETSU 5 of 15 for 33.3 percent (Dowdell 0-2, Davis 0-1, Hooks 0-2, Sanders 2-3, Jackson 2-3, Stafford 1-2, Moore 0-2); UTC 6 of 17 for 35.3 percent (Williams 1-3, Cornelius 0-1, Dial 3-7, Jarrells 2-5, Hill 0-1).
REBOUNDS: ETSU 41 (Adams 8, Dowdell 6, Williams 5, Jackson 5); UTC 32 (Williams 15, Cornelius 7, Dial 4).
ASSISTS: ETSU 9 (Upton 5, Moore 2); UTC 13 (Williams 3, Cornelius 3, Jarrells 3).
TURNOVERS: ETSU 19 (Hooks 4, Sanders 4, Jackson 3); UTC 18 (Williams 6, Cornelius 4, Pugh 4).
STEALS: ETSU 5 (Hooks 3); UTC 5 (Jarrells 2, Williams, Cornelius, Pugh).
BLOCKS: ETSU 5 (Davis 2, Adams 2); UTC 3 (Williams, Cornelius, Dial).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)