The Chattanooga women’s basketball team rolled to a lopsided Southern Conference victory over Elon on Saturday, avenging the squad’s earlier-season loss to the Lady Phoenix with its 63-40 win at McKenzie Arena.
The Lady Mocs (20-3, 13-1 SoCon), who trailed by as much as nine points in the opening period, shot 2-for-11 from the field to start the game, and were held without a field goal for a 7:28 stretch in the first half.
It wasn’t pretty, but Chattanooga’s defense kept them in the game throughout the dry spell.
“We’ve made a habit here lately of starting slow,” UTC head coach Wes Moore said. “I think most of it was offensively; we just couldn’t hit a shot. I think our effort was there, our energy was decent, but finally we hit some shots.”
UTC finally got a basket from junior Faith Dupree as the 6-3 forward knocked down a contested jumper from the right elbow with 12:01 left in the first half, sparking a 20-6 Chattanooga run to close the opening period and take a 25-18 lead into the break.
“I really believe a few girls coming off the bench sparked it,” UTC senior Kylie Lambert said.
31 of the Lady Mocs’ 63 points came from their bench, led by freshman Tatianna Jackson’s 14. Three players finished in double-figures for UTC, including senior Kayla Christopher (12) and Dupree (11).
“When I made the first couple baskets I started getting more comfortable out there,” Dupree said. “I’m really glad it’s actually happening, because I’ve had a bad last few games and I’m trying to get out of that. That’s my focus.”
Saturday was Dupree's first double-digit scoring performance since her return from injury on Jan. 18 at Davidson.
Chattanooga, which hit just 11 of its 32 attempts from the field (34.4 percent) in the first half, shot the lights out in the second. The Lady Mocs knocked down 14 of 31 (45.2 percent), while outscoring Elon 38-22 in the final 20 minutes.
Their defense was just as impressive. UTC held the Lady Phoenix to well below their season average (66.0 ppg), limited them to 28.3 percent shooting (15 of 53), while forcing 17 turnovers. Chattanooga also kept its opponent from hitting a single 3-pointer for the second time this season.
The Lady Mocs tied the game at 16-16 on a 3-pointer from Jackson with 5:38 left in the first half, and they took their first lead of the game on Christopher’s layup off a steal by sophomore Ka’Vonne Towns just moments later.
They never trailed again.
Elon senior Kelsey Evan, finished with a game-high 19, while leading her team with eight boards, and senior Ali Ford, the SoCon’s second-leading scorer (17.0 ppg), was held to just five points on 1 of 8 shooting.
“(Ford) only had two points at halftime, and we talked about how we need to stick with her and not let her get happy,” Moore said. “A kid like that has a lot of confidence, and if she hits a couple shots, look out.”
Ford scored 21 in the two teams’ first meeting on Jan. 7.
The Lady Mocs return to action Monday when they face UNC Greensboro (5:30 p.m.), the first game of a doubleheader with the UTC men, which takes on Samford (7:30).
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.