CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team honored its seniors in front of 2,763 fans Saturday night in a "pinked out" McKenzie Arena and extended its home-court win streak to 25 consecutive games with an 81-39 win over Western Carolina in Southern Conference action.
The Lady Mocs improve to 24-3 overall and 17-1 in league play while the Catamounts fall to 7-19 on the year and 5-12 against the SoCon. The win was Chattanooga's 14th straight this season.
Seniors Kayla Christopher (Oliver Springs, Tenn.) and Kylie Lambert (Etowah, Tenn.) were honored for their four years at Chattanooga prior to the game's tipoff. The night also brought attention to the fight against breast cancer in the "Play4Kay" game at McKenzie. The players donned pink shooting shirts with the "Play4Kay" logo emblazoned on front as well as wearing pink shoes and socks.
Chattanooga head coach Wes Moore spread out the playing time out with each of the 11 players getting at least 10 minutes on the court and all but one scoring. Senior Kayla Christopher (Oliver Springs, Tenn.) led four Lady Mocs in double figures with a game-high 15 points and three assists. Junior Meghan Downes (Newnan, Ga.) dropped in 13 points and had two steals while junior Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds. Freshman Tatianna Jackson (Atlanta, Ga.) had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Junior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) had a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with five points. Freshman Alicia "Red" Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) had seven points, five assists and four steals and junior Faith Dupree went 4-of-5 from the field, including an old-fashioned 3-point play, for nine points in 11 minutes.
Over the first 5:43 of the first half, Chattanooga could only manage four points and five turnovers as the Catamounts got out front 5-4 with 14:17 to go in the opening stanza. But it would become all Lady Mocs basketball after that as Chattanooga went on a 37-4 run over the next 12:54 to take a 41-9 lead. Western Carolina's Janae' McKinney would get the half's final bucket for a 41-11 margin at the break.
Christopher started the run with the first of her three 3-pointers. Payne, Hall and Dupree combined for the next 16 while Christopher closed out the first 21 points of the scoring run with a short jumper to make it 25-5 with 9:30 to go in the first half.
Western Carolina scored the next four points, getting buckets from Lindsey Simpson and Erika Joseph, cutting slightly into the lead to make it 25-9 with 8:27 on the clock. The Lady Mocs started the second half of their run with a layup from freshman Tatianna Jackson (Atlanta, Ga.). Dupree added to her total with a jumper followed by five points from Downes, including one of her three 3-pointers. Dewart hit a pair of layups and senior Kylie Lambert (Etowah, Tenn.) capped off the run with a layup to make it 41-9 with less than a minute in the half.
Chattanooga kept up the pressure in the second half as more Lady Mocs got playing time. With a 37-point lead midway through the second half, Jackson ran off the next six Chattanooga points to make it 67-24 with 8:47 to play. Downes hit the two of her free throw attempts, but got the rebound and put up a 3-pointer to stretch the lead.
Chattanooga's largest lead of the game was 81-33 on a 3-pointer from junior Destiny Bramblett (Radcliff, Ky.) at the 2:19 mark of the game. Bramblett closed out the game with five points and seven rebounds including four on the offensive end.
The Lady Mocs outscored Western Carolina 48-18 in the paint and 45-21 off the bench. UTC forced 13 Catamount turnovers resulting in 19 points to WCU's seven off of nine Chattanooga mistakes. The Lady Mocs got 12 fastbreak points and out rebounded the Catamounts 40-23. UTC grabbed 19 offensive boards resulting in 22 second chance points compared to WCU's one point from four offensive rebounds.
Joseph led Western Carolina with 10 points and five rebounds while Simpson put in seven points. Makensey Campbell had five points, two assists and three of the Catamounts seven blocked shots on the night.
The Lady Mocs will host Davidson Monday night at the Roundhouse in a 7 p.m. start. A Chattanooga win Monday will clinch an 18th Southern Conference crown for the Lady Mocs and 12th of the Wes Moore Era. Tickets are available at the McKenzie Arena box office at 423-266-MOCS (6627) or online at GoMocs.com, the official website of Chattanooga athletics.