The Chattanooga women’s basketball team captured its second Southern Conference victory in as many tries Monday night at Elon’s Alumni Gym, cruising to a 66-43 win behind Ashlen Dewart’s 29-point, 10-rebound performance.
The final score was a little misleading, though. The game wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the scoring differential seemed to indicate. The two teams were even after one half of play, and the Phoenix led for much of the first 10 minutes of the second. No, the Lady Mocs would need a huge push late to put this one away, and that's exactly what they got.
“I thought the Harris kid really hurt us in the first half,” UTC head coach Jim Foster said of Phoenix senior Kelsey Harris. “She was 7-for-7 and was really the only player that was hurting us.”
Harris, who finished with a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds, shot 0-for-4 from the field in the second half, but Elon (3-6, 1-1) still found itself in front, 42-41, with just over nine minutes to play.
“We were taking quick shots, and we aren’t a good basketball team when we take quick shots,” Foster said. “The lowest percentage shot in basketball is probably the jump shot off the bounce. If you want to win a game at the end of the shot clock then you might have to take it, but to take it six or seven times with 20 seconds to go on the shot clock is not smart basketball.
“Once we started to understand that, we got some quality shots.”
Alicia Payne’s make on the front end of two from the free-throw line tied things up just seconds later, and Ka’Vonne Towne’s offensive rebound and put back off Payne’s ensuing miss spotted UTC a two-point edge. That was the start of a 25-1 Chattanooga run, at the end of which, the Lady Mocs held the advantage in virtually every statistical category, including field-goal percentage (48.1%-31.5%), rebounding (44-36), points in the paint (38-20), bench points (17-7) and points off turnovers (28-10).
Dewart’s season-high scoring performance came on 13 of 16 shooting, and the 6-foot-3 forward also dished out three assists. Senior Taylor Hall recorded her sixth consecutive double-double, finishing with 13 points and a game-high 12 boards in addition to three assists, three steals and a pair of blocked shots.
Payne added eight points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals—most of which came in the final 20 minutes after the sophomore guard picked up a pair of first-half fouls.
“Part of our struggle was “Red” Payne getting two fouls in the first half,” Foster said. “It was a good way to win the game with her having a good second half. We want to keep getting better, and games like this give you the opportunity to see what you have to be better at. I thought the second half we were pretty good.”
“[Foster] just told me after the game that I can’t do that, especially when our team is playing like that,” Payne said. “I have to be more careful.”
Chattanooga (8-3, 2-0 SoCon) returns to action Wednesday at Austin Peay (8 p.m. ET)—Game 6 of the squad’s eight-game road swing. The Lady Mocs don’t return home to McKenzie Arena until January 4, when they host Georgia Southern (7 p.m.) in their SoCon home opener.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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