The Southern Conference tournament starts in 13 days, so it’s important that every team play its best as that time gets closer.
Coach Katie Burrows has certainly been focusing on that in recent practices as she wants her Lady Mocs to be more consistent overall and to keep playing good defense.
Burrows got her wish for the most part on Friday night at McKenzie Arena where Chattanooga won its third straight game and improved to 13-8 overall and 8-4 on conference play with a 57-41 victory over UNC Greensboro.
The Spartans are now 6-15 overall and 4-8 in league play after having their two-game win streak snapped.
Burrows knows that there’s always room to get better, but she was overall pretty pleased with Friday’s performance.
“I’m just happy we got another win. It really doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We have to be ready because we’re capable of losing to anyone at any time,” she began her post-game comments.
“I thought our defense did a great job, but our offense was stagnant at times. We didn’t shoot the ball great, but were consistent with our defensive stops. We are getting more consistent overall and that’s what I’ve been preaching for several weeks, but a lot of these kids understand their roles and they’re starting to play like they’re capable.
“Now we need to get some rest so we can do it again on Sunday,” Burrows concluded.
Chattanooga only sank 43.1 percent of its field goal attempts by making 22 of 51 and they were even worse from long range after making just seven of 23 for 30.4 percent.
But the Spartans were worse by hitting 28.6 percent of their field goals (18 of 63) and none of their 14 attempts from 3-point range.
Eboni Williams got the first bucket for Chattanooga with a layup at the 8:41 mark of the first quarter and three more different players scored as the Lady Mocs had an 8-0 lead in the first four minutes.
Bria Dial sank back-to-back 3s to give Chattanooga its biggest lead of the quarter at 16-3 with 3:25 left. The Spartans finished the quarter on a 6-2 run as they trailed 18-9 when the first quarter ended.
Chattanooga’s lead only continued to get bigger as Dial’s two free throws with 35.8 seconds before the half gave her team its biggest lead at 34-17.
The biggest lead of the game was 24 points on three occasions in the final stanza, including 57-33 with 2:40 to play following a reverse layup by Brooke Hampel.
Burrows emptied her bench at that point and the Spartans started pressing, which allowed the ladies from North Carolina to finish the game on an 8-0 run and to make the final margin of defeat not quite as embarrassing.
Dial scored 16 points to lead the Chattanooga offense while Abbey Cornelius was also in double figures with 11. Cornelius also grabbed 11 rebounds, including five on the offensive end, as the Lady Mocs had a commanding 48-28 advantage on the glass.
“We just had to stay focused the entire game as we need to build our confidence going into the tournament,” said Cornelius, the 6-2 junior from Knoxville who moved into fourth place on the career blocked shots list with 90 after getting two Friday night.
“I’m really proud of our defense as we’ve been working on boxing out. We knew that if they didn’t shoot very well that we’d get a lot of opportunities rebounding and that’s what we did,” she added.
Dial had three blocks for the game and is now seventh on the UTC career list with 80.
“I thought we came out and shut them down as we’ve really been working on our defense lately. There were times when we needed to pick it up offensively, but for the most part, we played pretty well,” said Dial, one of only two seniors on the UTC roster, said.
While Dial and Cornelius were the only Chattanooga players in double figures, Williams, Anna Walker and Morgan Hill all finished with seven points.
CeCe Crudup was the only Greensboro player in double figures as she finished with 13 points. Amber Redmond and Jaylynn Brown were next with nine and eight points, respectively.
While Cornelius set the pace for Chattanooga with her 11 rebounds, Sigrun Olafsdottir and Williams both snagged six while Dena Jarrells and Walker both claimed five each.
These same two teams will play on Sunday with the tip set for 1 p.m. in Chattanooga’s final home game of the season. They will conclude the regular season next Thursday at ETSU.
UNC GREENSBORO 9 8 12 12 -- 41
CHATTANOOGA 18 16 13 10 -- 57
UNC GREENSBORO (41) – Cain 3, Johnson 5, Greer, Crudup 13, Redmond 9, Izundu 3, Brown 8, Sorensen, Council, Tyler.
CHATTANOOGA (57) – Williams 7, Cornelius 11, Olafsdottir 2, Dial 16, Pugh 2, Hampel 2, Walker 7, Jarrells 3, Hill 7, Searcy, Canter, Wood, Uwusiaba.
FIELD GOALS: Greensboro 18 of 63 for 28.6 percent; Chattanooga 22 of 51 for 43.1 percent;
FREE THROWS: Greensboro 5 of 11 for 45.5 percent; Chattanooga 6 of 8 for 75 percent;
3-POINT GOALS: Greensboro 0 of 14 for 0 percent (Greer 0-4, Crudup 0-1, Redmond 0-1, Brown 0-2, Sorensen 0-3, Council 0-2, Tyler 0-1); Chattanooga 7 of 23 for 30.4 percent (Williams 0-1, Cornelius 0-1, Olafsdottir 0-3, Dial 4-9, Pugh 0-1, Hampel 0-3, Walker 1-1, Jarrells 1-3, Hill 1-1);
REBOUNDS: Greensboro 28 (Cain 5, six others with 3 each); Chattanooga 48 (Cornelius 11, Williams 6, Olafsdottir 6, Walker 5, Jarrells 5);
ASSISTS: Greensboro 4 (Crudup, Izunfu, Brown, Council all with 1 each); Chattanooga 16 (Williams 3, Cornelius 3, Jarrells 3);
TURNOVERS: Greensboro 8 (Crudup 3); Chattanooga 23 (Jarrells 4, Canter 3, five others with 2 each);
STEALS: Greensboro 9 (Crudup 5, Brown 2); Chattanooga 4 (Cornelius, Olafsdottir, Dial and Hill with one each);
BLOCKS: Greensboro 3 (Cain 2); Chattanooga 5 (Dial 3, Cornelius 2);
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)