ASHEVILLE, N.C. --- It was only fitting that the last shot came from senior Kayla Christopher.
With the Lady Mocs trailing by two with 17.6 seconds to play, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga had the ball. The shot was supposed to come from junior Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.), however, her first shot glanced off the rim. She and classmate Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) crashed the boards on the right side and Dewart came up with the ball for another chance.
Her second shot went off the left side and Christopher (Oliver Springs, Tenn.) was there for one more Chattanooga chance. She outjumped Davidson's Laura Murray and the put back found the net to put the Lady Mocs out front 64-63 with 8.2 seconds to play.
Davidson had one shot at the win, but Murray's jumper from deep on the left fell short and Christopher gathered up the rebound for the nail-biting victory.
The Lady Mocs improve to 29-3 on the year and claim a Southern Conference record 14th league tournament title. Chattanooga is 14-0 in title games claiming its first crown since 2010. Davidson, led by Murray's 22 points, falls to 21-12.
After spotting the Lady Mocs an early six-point lead, Davidson used a 12-2 run to swing the advantage to their favor by an 18-14 margin. Chattanooga tied it up twice more late in the first half, but the Wildcats wouldn't be tamed and pushed its lead to 32-22, its largest of the half, with 1:15 to go in the opening frame.
The Lady Mocs cut it to seven on a 3-pointer from senior Kylie Lambert (Etowah, Tenn.) with 34 seconds remaining in the half.
Davidson came out strong in the second half getting the first four points and stretching its lead to the largest of the game at 36-25. They would meet that margin once more less than a minute later before Chattanooga began its climb back into the game.
Hall, after getting into foul trouble early in the game, led the way in the second half scoring 17 of her team-high 19 points in the contest. She started the comeback with a jumper at the 18:17 mark to make it 38-29. She netted one free throw and capped off a 9-2 run to cut the Wildcats lead to 40-36 with 14:44 to play.
After a 3-pointer from Murray, Dewart converted on five of Chattanooga's next seven points to cut the deficit to 45-42 with 12:22 on the clock.
The Lady Mocs would not go away and tied the game up twice before Christopher's put back finally gave Chattanooga the lead.
Hall drained a 3-pointer with 6:13 to play to tie it up for the first time in the second half and the fourth time in the game at 54-54. Davidson converted on four straight free throws from Murray and Catrin Chiemeka for a 58-54 lead with 5:15 remaining.
Dewart drew the foul on the other end a minute later and hit both free throws then hit a layup with 3:34 on the clock to tie it up for the fifth time at 58-58. However, Davidson wasn't about to lie down. Murray drained a trey then hit a layup for a 63-58 lead at the 2:13 mark of the game.
Hall, who was 11-of-11 from the free throw line Sunday in the semifinals against Appalachian State, was only shooting .500 on the day from the charity stripe. She was fouled by Davidson's Sophia Aleksandravicius with 1:57 to play and connected on both to cut the deficit to 63-60.
Davidson missed a 3-point attempt by Chiemeka and the Wildcats grabbed the rebound but a turnover gave the ball back to the Lady Mocs with 43 seconds to play. Hall drove the lane for a layup to make it 63-62. On the ensuing Wildcat possession, Murray was called for a charge and Chattanooga got its chance for the win with 24 seconds on the clock.
On the inbounds play, Lambert got a back door pass from Dewart, but the layup was blocked out of bounds by Jasmine Calin. Chattanooga called timeout and set up the final play for the win.
Dewart got her eighth double-double of the year with 15 points and 12 rebounds while Hall led the Lady Mocs for the second straight game with 19 points with six boards. Christopher had seven points, six rebounds and three assists while junior Faith Dupree (Knoxville, Tenn.) had nine points in 10 minutes off the bench.
Chattanooga outscored Davidson 30-22 in the paint and 16-10 off the bench and outrebounded the Wildcats 36-32. The Lady Mocs converted 21 offensive rebounds into 23 second chance points compared the Davidson's six points on six offensive boards. UTC forced 19 Davidson miscues and had 13 points compared to the Wildcats' four points off six UTC turnovers.
Dewart was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player. She was joined on the first team All-Tourney squad by Hall, Davidson's Murray and Aleksandravicius and Appalachian State's Raven Gary. Black was selected to the all-tournament second team along with Mountaineer Anna Freeman, Elon's Kelsey Evans, Georgia Southern's Meredyth Frye and Taylor Reece of Samford.
The Lady Mocs will learn their NCAA Tournament fate Monday, March 18. The ESPN Selection Show will air at 7:00 p.m.