CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball head coach Jim Foster makes no secret about his dislike of Senior Day, but he passed the baton Sunday afternoon at the McKenzie Arena in UTC’s 77-56 win over UNCG in the season finale as he pulled all five seniors from the floor with 3:09 on the clock and replaced them with all five freshmen.
“I hate Senior Day,” Foster said to the media following the festivities. “Why would I like to see Taylor [Hall], Ashlen [Dewart], Faith [Dupree], Meghan [Downes] and Alex [Black] leave? That’s the last time you’ll have those players on your court.”
Chattanooga closed out the season with 22 consecutive wins and is 26-3 overall with its fourth perfect Southern Conference record in school history at 18-0 and has the No. 1 seed for the SoCon Tournament set to tip off Friday morning. The Spartans fall to 7-22 on the year and 3-15 in league play and is the No. 10 seed. UNCG will take on No. 7 Western Carolina in Game 2 Friday afternoon.
Senior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) played just 27 minutes, far below her 35 minute per game average. She was one of three players in double figures with 10 points and was just shy of a quadruple double with nine rebounds, nine steals and seven assists.
Freshman Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) led Chattanooga in scoring with 15 points making 3-of-7 from beyond the arc while junior Ka’Vonne Towns (Lilburn, Ga.) was the third UTC player in double figures with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 15 minutes.
UNCG won the tip and got the first bucket of the game. That would be their only lead of the game as Shumpert drained the first two of her career-high tying three treys and UTC went on a 14-3 run to take a 14-5 lead with 13:32 on the clock in the first half.
“We had a lot of energy,” Foster said. “Maybe a tad too much on offense, but we had a lot of energy.”
UNCG, however, would slowly chip away at the lead and get to within 19-18 with 9:02 to play getting points out of five different players on the floor. The Lady Mocs went on a 21-4 run over the next seven minutes for its largest lead of the half, 40-22 with 2:20 to play in the opening period. The Spartans shrunk the gap slightly to make it a UTC 42-29 advantage at the break.
Chattanooga maintained its double digit lead throughout the second half and get out front by a 68-45 margin with 5:18 to play.
The paint was once again dominated by Chattanooga who outscored the Spartans 52-32 inside and scored 30 points off 30 UNCG turnovers – a season-high for a UTC opponent this season. Chattanooga also topped its season-high steals mark with 23, sixth best in school history. The steals resulted in many fastbreaks for UTC who outscored UNCG 18-6. Chattanooga’s bench contributed nearly half of the point total with 34 led by Towns’ 10 points.
UTC improved its NCAA home court win streak to 39 games – that’s three straight undefeated seasons at home – while improving its SoCon win streak to 34 games. The Lady Mocs won 22 straight games to close out the 2013-14 regular season.
Immediately following the game, Chattanooga recognized its senior manager and five senior student-athletes in a Senior Day presentation with family and friends as well as over 2,000 fans watching. The Lady Mocs were also presented their regular season trophy after the game.
Chattanooga has the No. 1 seed at the upcoming SoCon Tournament and will take on either No. 8 Georgia Southern or No. 9 Wofford Saturday at Noon at the Kimmel Arena on the UNC Asheville campus.