When Dena Jarrells let a shot fly late in the first half, there was no doubt the ball was going in. Her 19th, 20th, and 21st points were an exclamation point on a perfect half and arrived via a moonball from the left wing. Had the game been closer, the fans in attendance may have seen a 40-point game from Jarrells. Instead, they had to “settle” for a career-high 23 point and season-high eight assist performance from their point guard and a 85-65 win.
"I have confidence in her to make big shots because she has made those shots for us in the past,” coach Katie Burrows said.
“I'm pleased that she was hitting on all cylinders today."
The game was a blowout within the first few minutes of the matchup, when UTC started the game with a Sigrun Olafsdottir three-pointer in the corner and then never really stopped making shots like that. Chattanooga’s offense, keyed by great high post passing from players such as Abbey Cornelius and great shotmaking by almost everyone else, put up 29 in the first quarter alone.
As great as their offense was, it was UTC’s defense that had UNCG’s offense stuck like a used car in mid-January mud. Guard Amaria Pugh and Brooke Hampel not only made timely shots, but they also clogged up passing lanes and forced UNCG into bad misses and even worse turnovers.
UTC’s Jarrells could not miss in the first half, and that is not hyperbole. The Mocs’ floor general complemented her pinpoint passing and slippery drives with a flawless 6-6 performance from the field and a 4-4 rate from the free throw line.
Even when she was making every shot she was putting up, Jarrells never became a chucker though. After one of many UNCG turnovers, Jarrells had her head up and looking for teammates.
On what was deemed the play of the game by the MocsVision, Jarrells was racing downcourt on a Fastbreak. She gathered the ball when it came up from a dribble, spotted Hampel on the running down court to her right, and threw a quick one-handed bounce pass to her teammate for an easy layup.
“it's been a few games since we've seen Dena (Jarrells) come along,” coach Burrows said. “She found her rhythm today and did what she needed to do to get back on track for us.”
It would have taken an epic collapse by the Mocs to lose their 48-22 lead. The Mocs maintained it for the most part and cruised to their blowout win, but the Spartans made things slightly interesting in the third quarter. With mostly reserves in the game, Isys Grady and UNCG went on a quick 8-0 run that cut the lead down to under-20.
That’s when the starters came back in and restored order. Amaria Pugh, who was honored before the game for joining the 1,000 point club for her career, was one of four Mocs in double-figures, and was rewarded for hard drives into the paint with 11 free throw attempts.
“Mari has gotten better for us every game,” coach Burrows said. “She got a double-double with points and rebounds, four assists and one turnover. I can't say enough about her level of maturity that she is exuding right now for us at the guard position.”
It was plays like that which helped continue the now-four game win streak. The Mocs take the road and play Wofford and Furman next week.
UNCG 08 14 21 22 – 65
UTC 29 19 18 19 – 85
UNCG (65) – Boyd 6, Khalis Cain 10, Crudup, Amar 9, Isys Grady 14, Powell 6, Sorensen 2, Clark-Jones 3, Howard 2, Brown 6, Redmond 2, Releford 2, Greer 3
UTC (85) – Abbey Cornelius 14, Sigrun Olafsdottir 13, Dena Jarrells 23, Amaria Pugh 15, Hampel 9, Jones 2, McClendon 3, Porter 4, Murphy, Habling 2
3-POINT GOALS: UNCG 4 (Brown 2, Amar 1, Greer 1); UTC 9 (Jarrells 5, Olafsdottir 3, Hampel 1).
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