CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team scored 49 second half points for a comeback 73-63 win over Elon to claim sole possession of third place in the Southern Conference standings with one game left to play of the regular season.
Chattanooga improves to 15-13 overall and 12-7 in league play while the Phoenix move to 17-11 overall and 11-8 in the SoCon standings.
The Lady Mocs trailed 28-24 at intermission after the Phoenix started strong grabbing a 16-7 lead midway through the opening stanza. Elon kept up the pressure forcing eight first half miscues by Chattanooga and converting that to four points.
For the second straight game, junior Whitney Hood (Meridian, Miss.) found herself in foul trouble early and played just 10 minutes in the first half with two points. Sophomore Kayla Christopher (Oliver Springs, Tenn.) picked up the slack, however, and was 4-for-7 including a pair of 3-pointers for 10 points in the first.
The second half started with a quick foul by Elon to put Christopher at the line. She drained the first of her two free throws but missed the second. Junior Bailey Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) grabbed the rebound and kicked it back out for Christopher's third trey of the night. She would get one more to move ahead of Erin Ogan on the UTC all-time 3-pointers made list with 116 just two years into her career.
The two teams battled back and forth for the next few minutes before sophomore Kylie Lambert (Etowah, Tenn.) converted an old-fashioned 3-point play for the first tie of the game, 34-34 with 16:54 to play. Hood went across the lane just moments later to give Chattanooga its first lead since the opening seconds of the game at 36-34.
Elon tied it up on a layup from Kelsey Evans, but Dewart drained the 3 to give Chattanooga the lead for good, 39-36 with 15:22 to play. Evans hit a jumper to get Elon to within one, but that was as close as the Phoenix would get.
Back-to-back steals from junior Tenisha Townsend (Antioch, Tenn.) and Christopher led to four points for Chattanooga and its largest lead of the game at 65-52 with 2:01 to play. The Lady Mocs converted on 10-of-12 from the free throw line in the final two minutes of play with Townsend making 7-of-8 down the stretch for the win.
Christopher had a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Townsend had 13 points and six rebounds and was 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. Lambert, had 12 points for UTC along with five boards, two steals and a blocked shot. Freshman Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) had eight points on the night and four rebounds.
Elon's Ali Ford went 1-of-10 from the 3-point line but led the Phoenix with 13 points and five turnovers. Evans and Lei Lei Hairston each tossed in 10 points with Hairston just missing a double-double with nine rebounds. Evans, the league's leading rebounder, pulled in seven. Aiesha Harper had nine points and a game-high five assists.
Elon outscored UTC 28-22 in the paint but Chattanooga had 14 points on 14 Elon turnovers compared to the Phoenix' 10 points on 13 UTC miscues. The Lady Mocs converted eight offensive boards into 12 second chance points while Elon recorded 11 on 15 off the offensive glass. Elon outrebounded the Lady Mocs 44-36 and each team got 16 points from the bench.
The Lady Mocs will close out the regular season this Saturday, Feb. 26 in Cullowhee, N.C., against Western Carolina. The game will tip at 2 p.m. at the Ramsey Center. Live stats will be available along with streaming audio at the official website of Chattanooga athletics, GoMocs.com. Larry Ward, the "Voice of the Lady Mocs" will have the call on 106.9 FM.