CULLOWHEE, N.C. --- Juniors Whitney Hood (Meridian, Miss.) and Bailey Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) combined for 30 points to lead the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to a 59-47 win over Western Carolina at the Ramsey Center to wrap up the No. 3 seed at next week's Southern Conference Tournament to be held in Chattanooga.
Hood led the Lady Mocs with her sixth double-double of the year scoring 18 points and 10 rebounds while dishing out a game-high four assists. Dewart went 5-for-6 on the day with two 3-pointers for 12 points and three rebounds.
Chattanooga got out to an 11-3 start behind nine points from Hood and Dewart. The Catamounts went 0-for-7 over the first 6:50 of the game with three free throws. Diamond Hunnicut drained WCU's first bucket at the 13:10 mark to make it 11-5.
Chattanooga pushed its lead to 12 with 7:07 to play on a jumper from Hood making it 21-9 before Western Carolina put together an 10-1 run to cut the lead to 22-19 with 2:39 in the first on a free throw. The Lady Mocs closed out the half back-to-back baskets from Dewart and freshman Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) to lead 26-21 at the break.
To start the second half, the Lady Mocs got five quick points from Hood and Dewart to go up 31-21 at the 18:57 mark but the Catamounts had an answer to cut the lead back to five a minute-and-a-half later. However, the two teams combined for an 0-for-7 effort over the next 2:23 before sophomore Kayla Christopher (Oliver Springs, Tenn.) drained a 3-pointer to put UTC up 36-28 with 15:06 to play.
Chattanooga kept the barrier, getting ahead by 12 and never letting the Catamounts closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Western Carolina won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Chattanooga 46-35 with a 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass. The Lady Mocs, however, outscored the Catamounts 6-4 on second chance points. The Lady Mocs converted 13 Western Carolina miscues into 13 points while the Catamounts had seven points on 12 UTC turnovers.
The Lady Mocs went 21-of-51 (41.2%) from the field and was 6-of-19 (31.6%) from the 3-point line while converting on 11-of-17 free throws. Junior Tenisha Townsend had a pair of 3-pointers for nine points, while Christopher had seven points and seven rebounds.
Western Carolina senior Kendra Carroll who suffered a season-ending injury was honored prior to the game along with classmate Emily Clarke. Clarke led the Cats with 11 points and seven rebounds. Kaila'Shea Menendez had eight points while Diamond Hunnicut had seven points and a team-best eight rebounds. Caitlin Hollifield pulled down seven boards and had a team-high two assists.
The Lady Mocs closed out the season with eight wins over their last 10 games and will take on the winner of the No. 6/Wofford game in the second game Saturday morning at the Roundhouse in the conference tournament. Several seeds are still up for grabs in the middle of the bracket.
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