CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team kept its many win streaks alive Monday afternoon with a 62-44 win over Furman at the McKenzie Arena and nabbed the program’s 200th victory in the Roundhouse since it opened in 1983.
Chattanooga improves to 16-3 on the year and 8-0 against the Southern Conference while Furman adds another to the loss column at 10-8 and 4-3 in league play. UTC, on a 12-game win streak, won its 34th straight home game, the longest Division I streak in the nation, and 24th consecutive league contest.
The game got off to a slow start with only Furman finding the basket in the first 2:09. The Paladins’ Sarah Durdaller scored the first points of the game to give Furman a 2-0 lead, but it would be the only one. Chattanooga freshmen Aryanna Gilbert (Columbia, Tenn.) and Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) combined for the next eight and Chattanooga would never trail again.
“Early on we took a lot of quick shots, and that’s out of character, and we’re not a good team when we do that,” UTC Head Coach Jim Foster said. “We are too easy to guard, but when the ball started to move, even though the ball wasn‘t going in, the shots were more in the framework of how we play and that makes us more effective and efficient offensively as far as rebounds go because we know a shot is coming.”
With 9:38 to play in the first half, Furman cut Chattanooga’s lead to 12-11 on a 3-pointer from Whitney Bunn. Junior Ka’vonne Towns (Lilburn, Ga.) answered with her own 3-pointer sparking a 12-1 run to put UTC up 24-12, its largest lead of the opening stanza, with 4:00 left in the half.
Furman closed out the first half with the final six points, including a 3-pointer from Holli Wilkins with time expiring, to cut Chattanooga’s lead to just 26-20 at intermission.
The second half started out tight with Furman getting as close as 30-27 on a free throw from Wilkins at the 18:11 mark. It would be more than two minutes before Chattanooga scored, reeling off the next five points to push the lead out to 35-27 on free throws from senior Meghan Downes (Newnan, Ga.) with 14:04 to play.
Furman’s Janice Roberts answered with four points of her own to make it a four-point game, 35-31 at the 13:09 mark of the game. However, sophomore Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) drove in from the left side for a layup and UTC would put together a 10-1 run capped off with a jumper from senior Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) to take a 45-32 lead midway through the second half.
Chattanooga, SoCon leader for field goal percentage (.451), shot just 34.5 percent from the field but made up for the missed shots with 18 offensive rebounds resulting in 13 second chance points. Furman had season lows for points (44) and field goal percentage (31.8%) with just seven second chance points on seven offensive rebounds.
“I constantly tell the players that offense is never guaranteed to be there and that’s why you have to be a good defensive team for days like this. I thought we did a great job with that,” Foster said.
The Lady Mocs pulled down 47 rebounds overall, second most this season compared to Furman’s 31. UTC outscored the Paladins 28-18 in the paint and held a 19-2 advantage on points off turnovers forcing Furman to make 14.
Foster is just one win away from 800 career victories with his first opportunity this Saturday against Samford (5-14, 3-5 SoCon). Chattanooga will host the Bulldogs in the first game of a doubleheader with the men’s team. The game is set to tip at 4 p.m. at the Roundhouse.