CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team stretched the nation's best home court win streak to 38 straight games Friday night at the McKenzie Arena with a 69-55 win over Elon in Southern Conference action. UTC improves to 25-3 on the year and 17-0 in league play and ran its win streak to 21 games. Elon is 13-15 overall and 9-8 in conference action.
Elon got out to a quick 8-2 start but Chattanooga bounded back into the game on an 8-0 run to make it 10-8 with 13:12 to play in the first half. The lead bounced back and forth before sophomore Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) knotted it up 16-16 with 9:18 to go in the first with a pair of free throws.
Chattanooga went 0-for-4 over the next 4:06 while Elon retook the lead with six straight points to make it 22-16 with 7:22 on the clock. UTC again mounted a mini comeback outscoring the Phoenix 9-2 to tie it up 25-25 with 3:31 to play in the opening period powered by seven points from senior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.). The teams would again trade baskets down the stretch and UTC led 33-31 at the break.
In the second half, Chattanooga stepped up its energy. The two teams each dropped in a pair of free throws to start the latter stanza. Senior Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) grabbed a rebound off a block by freshman Aryanna Gilbert (Columbia, Tenn.) and threw a pass more than half to the court to freshman Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) who was on a tear down the court.
“She caught it like a receiver,” Dewart said of the reception.
UTC followed that with another fastbreak play, this time to Gilbert from Dewart to make it 39-33 less than two minutes into the period. Chattanooga continued to chip away at Elon and eventually got out to a 21-point lead on a layup by Gilbert to make it 65-44 with 5:03 to play. UTC maintained its double-digit lead over the final five minutes to gather its 33rd consecutive Southern Conference win.
Hall led three Chattanooga players in double figures with 15 points, 2 rebounds and six assists while Dewart was just shy of a double-double with 14 points and eight rebounds. She added four assists. Gilbert, with a career-high tying four steals, had 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Senior Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) had a season-high seven rebounds while adding six points.
Chattanooga outscored Elon 40-28 in the paint and scored 20 points off 21 Phoenix turnovers while Elon took advantage of 13 UTC miscues to score 10 points. Chattanooga’s bench outscored Elon 18-9 and UTC had 10 fast break points.
Elon’s Jennifer Rhodes led all scorers with 16 points and added eight rebounds while Kelsey Harris chipped in 10 points and grabbed seven boards. Sam Coffer had nine points before fouling out with 12:05 to play. Lauren Brown added eight points for the Phoenix and had a game-high seven assists.
Hall moved into a tie for eighth place in rebounding all-time at UTC with 768 and has 1,113 career points. Joyner recorded three blocked shots on the night and now has a team-high 40 on the year.
Chattanooga will honor its five departing seniors Sunday afternoon at the Roundhouse. UTC will host UNCG in the season finale which tips off at 2 p.m. Seniors Alex Black, Ashlen Dewart, Meghan Downes, Faith Dupree and Taylor Hall along with senior manager Shelby Hill will be honored prior to the game.