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ASHEVILLE, N.C. --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga junior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) went 11-of-11 from the free throw line in the second half, including four in the final seconds, to lead the Lady Mocs to a 72-67 win over Appalachian State Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center. UTC advances to a Southern Conference record 14th tournament championship game.
Hall hit her first free throw after getting fouled on a layup to tie the game 43-43 with 14:50 to play. With neither team able to get out front by more than three points and two ties later, Hall drew a foul and drained two more free throws to cut ASU's advantage to 53-52 with 7:57 to play. After a missed shot by App State, Hall again drew the foul and put Chattanooga on top 54-53 just moments later.
The Mountaineers retook the lead on a jumper by Raven Gary who ended with a game-high 19 points, but another free throw, this one by sophomore Ka'Vonne Towns (Lilburn, Ga.) tied the game for the 14th time at 55-55 with 6:26 to go.
Gary would get the next five points of the game to give Appalachian State a 60-55 lead, its largest, with 5:31 remaining.
Hall hit a layup to start a 6-0 run and capped it off with her sixth and seventh free throws to put UTC back on top 61-60 with 4:05 on the clock. Junior Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) hit a layup from the right side with 3:12 to play giving UTC a 63-62 lead and Chattanooga would never trail again. The Mountaineers pulled within one twice more in the game, but free throws would save the Lady Mocs who made 7-of-8 in the final 2:02 and were 22-of-27 for the game.
Chattanooga enjoyed its largest lead of the game in the first half after App State took an 18-16 lead with a jumper from Maryah Sydnor at the 8:13 mark. However, Ashlen Dewart hit a layup to tie it at 18-18 just 13 seconds later and then cap off a 10-0 run with a pair of free throws to give UTC a 26-18 lead with 5:39 to play in the half.
The Mountaineers responded with an 8-2 run to tie it up 28-28 with 2:41 to play. Chattanooga's Alicia Payne would score the only basket for either team the remainder of the half and the Lady Mocs would carry a 30-28 lead into intermission.
Hall led Chattanooga with 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds and two steals. Her 11 free throws without a miss is the second most in school history behind Shanara Hollinquest's 14-of-14 in the 2010 SoCon Tournament. It is the most made by a UTC player in the second half without a miss.
Dewart was 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line for 16 points and had eight rebounds as well with two assists. Junior Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) was 3-of-3 from the free throw line and had a pair of 3-pointers for 11 points with two assists. Senior Kayla Christopher (Oliver Springs, Tenn.) added nine points on 4-of-8 shooting and senior Kylie Lambert (Etowah, Tenn.) contributed eight points with five rebounds and a team-best three assists.
The Mountaineers drop to 20-10 on the year. Gary led all scorers with 19 points and had four rebounds and four assists. She was 6-of-19 from the field but a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Courtney Freeman was one of three other ASU players in double figures with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Maryah Sydnor and Katie Mallow each contributed 10 points.
ASU shot 43.3 percent from the field (26-of-60), including five 3-pointers, and was 10-of-11 from the free throw line.
Chattanooga edged the Mountaineers 30-26 in the paint and outscored ASU 13-8 on points off turnovers capitalizing on 14 miscues. UTC outrebounded App State 35-32 and had a 7-4 advantage on second chance points with 11 offensive boards.
UTC was 23-of-54 from the field (42.6%) with four 3-pointers. The Lady Mocs, on an 18-game win streak, are 28-3 overall and advance to the SoCon Tournament Championship game Monday at 3 p.m. against second-seeded Davidson.