CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team put together a strong second half behind the efforts of seniors Faith Dupree (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) who combined for 26 in the latter period for a 76-65 win over Belmont Sunday afternoon at the McKenzie Arena.
Dupree celebrated her 23rd birthday Sunday with a game-best 21 points leading five players in double figures for the first time since UTC defeated Alabama last year in Tuscaloosa. She was 8-of-18 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free throw line while tying her career best with three blocked shots and grabbed six boards.
She was joined in double digits by Hall with 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocked shots in 40 minutes. Senior Meghan Downes (Newnan, Ga.), and sophomore Tatianna Jackson (Atlanta, Ga.) and Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) each added 10 points.
After trailing 36-27 at halftime, Chattanooga outscored the Bruins 49-29 in the second. The Lady Mocs scored the first seven points of the first half sparked by an old-fashioned 3-point play by Payne and cut the score to 36-34 less than three minutes into the half.
Belmont responded with an 8-2 run of its own to push its lead back out to eight, 44-36 at the 15:02 mark, but the Lady Mocs would not be held back. Downes cut to the lane and Dupree fed her the ball for a layup sparking a 10-2 rip to tie the game 46-46 just two-and-a-half minutes later.
Belmont briefly took back the lead on a pair of free throws by Torie Vaught to make it 48-46 with 11:56 to play, but Dupree hit one of her eight jumpers to give UTC the lead followed another 3-point play by Payne to make it 51-48 at the 11:14 mark.
The game stayed tight over the next 5:17 with the Bruins hanging close and tying the contest twice more before the Lady Mocs pulled away.
With 5:28 to play, Chattanooga put together some good ball movement with strong passes and reverses, getting the ball to senior Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) who drained a wide-open 3-pointer from the left corner. Dupree followed that with a pair of free throws and Chattanooga went on an 11-2 run pushing the lead to 69-60, its largest to that point of the game.
Belmont cut into the lead with four straight free throws down the stretch to make it 69-64, but UTC allowed just one more point over the final 1:30. After scoring its final field goal of the game at the 7:20 mark, Belmont went 0-7 from the field but was 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
The Lady Mocs outscored Belmont 34-22 in the pain and got 26 points from the bench. UTC scored 14 points off 13 Belmont turnovers. The Bruins outrebounded UTC 37-33 and got 17 second chance points off 15 offensive boards compared to the Lady Mocs’ 13 points off 11 offensive rebounds.
UTC was 27-of-56 (48.2%) from the field and shot 55.6% (15-27) in the second half. At the charity stripe, the Lady Mocs were just 1-of-4 in the first half and 18-of-22 in the second. Belmont was held to just 8-of-26 (30.8%) in the second half and shot 37 percent for the game but scorched it from the free throw line making 22-of-26.
The Lady Mocs have won 28 consecutive games at the Roundhouse dating back to the season opening win over UAB in the 2011-12 season in the preseason WNIT. Chattanooga will host the Blazers Thursday night at the McKenzie Arena with a 7 p.m. tip time.