CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team fell 68-66 in overtime to No. 2 seed Samford in the semifinals of the 2011 Southern Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Sunday afternoon at the McKenzie Arena.
Sophomore Kylie Lambert (Etowah, Tenn.) led the Lady Mocs with her third double-double of the year scoring 17 points and grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds. Junior Whitney Hood (Meridian, Miss.) managed 16 points making 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
Chattanooga started with an 8-2 lead holding the Bulldogs to just two free throws and an 0-for-4 effort. Samford would hit another pair of free throws before getting its first bucket from Hannah Dawson at the 15:24 mark. A jumper from Savannah Hill knotted the game at 8-8 but a pair of free throws from Hood put Chattanooga back on top.
Samford took a 13-10 lead on a 3-pointer from Emily London with 11:39 to play in the first but Lambert cut it to 13-12 just 48 seconds later. London stretched the lead back out to three points on a jumper at the 10:36 mark and it would be the last field goal for either team over the next nine minutes.
The two teams combined to go 0-for-19 from the field over that time but were 13-of-17 from the free throw line. Samford hit all six of its attempts and led 21-19 with 2:56 to play until halftime. Brittany Jack's layup with 1:33 to go ended the scoring drought and the Lady Mocs followed that with a 3-pointer from freshman Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) to bring Chattanooga to within a point at 23-22 with 1:20 on the clock.
Freshman Alex Black brought the crowd to its feet with a trey from the right wing to give Chattanooga back its lead with 47 seconds to go. Jack tied it up with a layup 30 seconds later, but the momentum was all Chattanooga's as Lambert drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Lady Mocs into intermission with a 28-25 lead.
Lambert got the ball rolling to start the second half with another 3-pointer and the Lady Mocs stretched its tenuous lead to 36-28 with 16:31 remaining in regulation on a triple from junior Bailey Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.).
Samford got to within three on five quick points from London and Hill, but Chattanooga battled back. Dewart capped an 8-2 run to put the Lady Mocs up 44-35 with 14:07 on the clock. That would go for naught behind a 10-0 Bulldog run to give Samford the lead for the first time since the waning moments of the first half, 45-44 midway through the second.
Chattanooga, however, would again put together a drive, outscoring Samford 13-7 over the next eight minutes to lead 59-52 with 3:08 in regulation. That would be the final points for the Lady Mocs who took just three shots in that time while Samford put seven points on the board to tie the game.
Chattanooga forced a Samford turnover deep in Bulldog territory and called a timeout with six seconds on the clock to set up the final play. Christopher got the ball on a curl and went up in the lane for the shot against heavy pressure from Samford and the ball fell short forcing overtime.
In the extra period, Samford quickly built a seven-point lead, 66-59 with 3:08 to play. Lambert started the Chattanooga run to the finish with a pair of free throws. After a missed shot by the Bulldogs, UTC managed to keep the ball in Lady Mocs' territory and a jumper from Christopher fell as she was fouled, cutting the lead to 66-64 with 1:19 to play.
London hit a quick jumper to give Samford a four-point lead but Townsend cut it back to two on a layup with 33 seconds to play. Dawson missed the front end of a one-and-bonus and Christopher grabbed the rebound and the Lady Mocs set up the final play with just seconds left.
Christopher passed the ball to Dewart who was blocked on the drive to the basket and the Lady Mocs fell to the Bulldogs for the third time this season.
Christopher closed out the game with eight points, eight rebounds and four assists. Townsend had four points and four assists, while Dewart put up nine for Chattanooga, all on 3-pointers. Hall had a career-high three 3-pointers and nine points for the Lady Mocs and sophomore Kiara Smith (Rome, Ga.) had five rebounds in just three minutes on the floor.
Samford was paced by London's 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Hill had 20 points and nine boards, as Ruth Ketcham and Shelby Campbell each tossed in eight points.
Chattanooga outrebounded Samford 44-33 with 16 offensive boards converting that into 12 second chance points. The Lady Mocs scord eight points off eight Bulldog miscues while Samford scored just three off 10 UTC turnovers.
UTC closes out the season at 17-14 and third in the SoCon standings. Samford (24-7) will go on to play No. 1 Appalachian State in the finals Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. The game will be carried live on SportSouth with Tom Werme and Robin Muller.