CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team jumped on top of Appalachian State early, never trailing, Saturday afternoon in a “Throwback” game at Maclellan Gym and cruised past the Mountaineers 69-41 in Southern Conference action.
UTC improves to 20-3 overall and 12-0 in league play while the Mountaineers fall to 9-13 and even its SoCon mark at 6-6. The win was No. 36 for consecutive home court victories, the longest current streak in the nation, and 16th straight win this year. Chattanooga also extended its regular season SoCon win streak to 28 games.
Chattanooga got out to a 15-2 start and allowed the Mountaineers just 16 points in the first half. Freshman Aryanna Gilbert (Columbia, Tenn.) and senior Meghan Downes (Newnan, Ga.) each went 4-for-4 in the first half while seniors Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) and Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) combined for 14 points and eight rebounds in the opening stanza.
Appalachian State got the tip but missed their attempt. Hall and Gilbert would combine for the first seven points before ASU’s Amber Doniere was able to find the net with a short jumper. Gilbert scored the next four for UTC with Dewart and Hall adding another four to put Chattanooga up 15-2 with 14:34 to play.
It would be another two minutes and three missed ASU shots before the Mountaineers would score its second basket of the game on a putback layup by the SoCon leading scorer Maryah Sydnor. She would be held to just six points and two rebounds in 22 minutes.
Over the next five minutes Chattanooga brought the crowd filled with fans, students and former players and coaches to its feet with three straight 3-pointers, two from Downes sandwiched around one from junior Ka’Vonne Towns (Lilburn, Ga.) as UTC outscored App 11-5 over that time.
Downes’ third 3-pointer of the game started a 12-0 run by UTC capped off by a pair of free throws by Dewart against her former team to put Chattanooga up 38-12 with 1:44 to play in the half. UTC carried a 24-point lead into the break, 40-16.
The first half of the second period saw Chattanooga continue to push its lead outscoring the Mountaineers 61-22, its largest lead of the game, with 11:58 to play. Appalachian State finished off the game with a 19-8 advantage over the final 10:39, but couldn’t climb back up before the final buzzer.
Hall posted her 11th double-double of the year with 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while matching her season-low for minutes with 23. Gilbert led all scorers with a career-high 14 points making all seven of her attempts, matching the second best field goal percentage in a game. Downes was the third player in double figures with 11 points. She was 4-of-4 from the field, sinking all three of her 3-point attempts.
Dewart was 5-of-6 from the free throw line and closed the game with nine points and four assists. Freshman Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) hit a 3-pointer and was 4-of-4 from the free throw line for seven points adding in four steals. Freshman Jasmine Joyner added three blocks and six rebounds giving her 23 blocked shots this season, second most on the team.
KeKe Cooper was the only Mountaineer in double figures with 10 points. Mia Marshall and Amber Doniere each pulled down a team-high seven rebounds while LaShawna added six points and four boards.
Chattanooga edged ASU in the paint 30-28 but scored 33 points on 23 Appalachian State turnovers while the Mountaineers had just 15 points on a season-high 22 Chattanooga miscues. UTC’s bench added 26 points while ASU’s bench scored more than half its points with 22.
Scheduling conflicts forced the game out of the McKenzie Arena and across the street to Chattanooga’s former home for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. A crowd of 1,778 were on hand to relive the early days of basketball at UTC in “Big Mac” as it was affectionately known. Former head coaches Grace Keith and Sharon Fanning-Otis were on hand for the game as well as several former players.
Chattanooga returns to the Roundhouse Monday night to host Western Carolina. The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m.