The Lady Mocs threatened on a couple of occasions, but they somehow never got around to pulling away from their opponent in Monday’s game against UNC Greensboro at McKenzie Arena.
Chattanooga (21-3, 13-1 Southern Conference), which rolled to a 30-point victory over the Spartans on Dec. 19, led by as much as 12 in the final five minutes, but UNCG refused to fold.
“It was a great game for the fans,” UTC head coach Wes Moore said. “Not so much for the coach.”
The Lady Mocs ultimately held on for their 11th straight victor, downing the resilient Spartans 74-68.
“You have to give UNCG a lot of credit; they had a good plan and did a nice job with it,” said Moore, who earned his 350th career win at UTC on Monday — victory No. 550 in his career. “Kayla Christopher hit some big, big 3s when we were struggling. Tatianna Jackson made her first start — eight rebounds. It was another team effort; another team win.”
Four Lady Mocs finished in double-figures Monday, led by Christopher’s team-high 20. The 5-9 guard moved into second place in UTC history with five treys, giving her 216 in her career.
“I’m just thankful; thank God for giving me the opportunity,” Christopher said. “To even be mentioned up there is pretty cool, but I still want more.”
Christopher, who finished the game 5 of 10 from beyond the arc, knocked down three 3-pointers in a span of 1:30 midway through the second half, opening up a seven-point lead with 7:09 remaining.
“That was a big stretch for us,” Christopher said. “We were down a few at that point so it was big for us to step up and knock down some shots. It gave us confidence to finish it out strong.
Minutes later freshman Alicia Payne buried a 3-pointer to give UTC its first double-digit lead of the game — 62-50 — with 4:54 remaining and cap the team’s 17-4 run.
The Spartans worked the deficit down to six points in the final seconds, but never truly threatened in the closing minutes.
UNCG’s Jessica Collins finished with a game-high 21 points and five assists, Breonna Patterson added 14, while Lucy Mason and Janae’ Stevenson each added 12.
Chattanooga took its first lead of the game on a layup by Ashlen Dewart — the second of three straight baskets by the junior, who finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, to put her team ahead 9-6 with 15:32 left in the first half.
Minutes later, junior Meghan Downes knocked down a contested jumper to cap an 11-3 Lady Mocs run, stretching their lead to 20-14 at the 10:42 mark. UTC led by as much as seven in the first half following Christopher’s first 3-pointer of the contest at 5:23 mark
Chattanooga shot 14-for-33 (42.4 percent) in the first half, and outrebounded the Spartans 23-9 in the opening period. The Lady Mocs brought down 11 offensive boards in the game’s first 20 minutes, racking up 11 second-chance points.
Their opponents were still very much in the game, though. In fact, the Spartans actually led 32-31 at the break.
Collins, who had 16 points at intermission, scored 13 of team’s final 15 points of the first half. The 5-6 sophomore, who buried back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 1:08, finished six of seven from the field and a perfect 4 of 4 from beyond the arc in the opening period. She didn’t miss a three-point attempt until just before the 18-minute of the second half.
The Lady Mocs return to action Saturday when they travel to College of Charleston’s TD Arena to face the Lady Cougars.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.