GREENSBORO, N.C. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team dominated the paint Saturday afternoon, defeating UNCG 86-53 in the Southern Conference opener for both teams. Chattanooga improves to 7-3 overall and 1-0 in league play while the Spartans drop below .500 at 4-5 and 0-1 in the SoCon.
Senior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) recorded her sixth double-double of the year and her fifth straight, with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. She was joined in double figure shooting by freshmen Aryanna Gilbert (Columbia, Tenn.) with a career-high 13 points and Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) with 12.
Chattanooga was 34-of-60 from the field for a season-high 56.7 field goal percentage and outscored UNCG 54-30 in the paint. UTC outrebounded UNCG 43-29 after the two were even at the break with 17 apiece. On 12 offensive boards, UTC scored 17 points compared to the Spartans’ eight off 13 offensive rebounds.
In the first half, the score was fairly tight with four lead changes and eight ties before Chattanooga gave itself some breathing room outscoring UNCG 10-2 over the final 4:37 of the opening stanza. Hall drained the second of her two 3-pointers to start the run and freshman Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) capped off the run with an old-fashioned 3-point play with 10 seconds remaining in the half.
In the second half, UTC pulled further out front getting its first double-digit lead, 38-28 with 18:53 to play on a steal and fastbreak layup by Hall. Foster cleared the bench Saturday and 12 players found the nets.
With just under five minutes to play in the game, Foster pulled seniors Hall and Faith Dupree (Knoxville, Tenn.) and sent Gilbert and Joyner to the floor to join Shumpert, Whitney Hartlage (Louisville, Ky.) and Moses Johnson (Atlanta, Ga.) on the floor. That marked the first time that all five freshmen were on the court at the same time.
The rookies scored the final 16 points of the game and allowed seven points by the Spartan offense for the final 86-53 tally. Hartlage scored a career-best nine points making 4-of-7 from the field and draining her one free throw.
Chattanooga was 15-of-22 (68.2%) from the free throw line and had a season-high 22 assists with 13 turnovers. UTC tied its best for blocked shots with seven with Joyner accounting for three of the rejections.
UTC remains on the road with a Monday contest at Elon. The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. and will be Chattanooga’s final road trip to Elon in Southern Conference play as the Phoenix leave the SoCon for the CAA next season. Larry Ward will have all the action LIVE on ESPN 105.1 “The Zone”.