CHATTANOOGA (UTC/WRCB) -- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sophomore Alex Black went 10-for-10 from the free throw line in the final 5:53, including a 6-for-6 effort in the final 51 seconds, to lead the Lady Mocs to a 64-58 win over Western Carolina Monday night at the McKenzie Arena.
Black led the Lady Mocs with a career-high 15 points in Chattanooga's fifth straight win. UTC is 7-3 on the year and now 3-0 in Southern Conference play. The Catamounts fall to 4-7 overall and 0-4 in league action. The loss was the fifth straight for Western Carolina.
"It was one of the first times I've had to be in towards the end of the game," said Black, who has now made 15 straight free throws dating back to the home opener against UAB. "I just tried to be settled and take care of the ball. I just kept thinking 'Don't mess up.'
"I'm pretty confident at the line. I just try not to think about the situation when I'm there."
It looked like Chattanooga wouldn't need any late-game heroics with a 16-point second-half lead that stayed in double figures until the 3:23 mark.
But the Catamounts wouldn't go away.
With UTC shooting just 26.1% after intermission, including 1-of-13 behind the 3-point arc, Kaila'Shea Menendez caught fire to score 16 of her game-high 26 points in the second half. Makensey Campbell also found her groove with four second-half 3-pointers, the last pulling Western Carolina within 60-58 with 28 seconds to play.
But Black sealed the win at the free throw line, becoming just the fifth Lady Moc player to make ten free throws without a miss in a game, and first since Shanara Hollinquest (2006-10) went 14-of-14 against Samford in the SoCon tournament in 2010.
"It shows you that it's a 40-minute game," said head coach Wes Moore. "We felt pretty good and were on kind of a roll coming into halftime, but in the second half we couldn't make shots. Thank goodness free throws won it for us.
"It sends a message to our team, we have not arrived yet."
The Lady Mocs' disappointing second-half came after a dominating opening frame. Kylie Lambert and Faith Dupree combined to score 19 first-half points in the to lead UTC to a 38-24 halftime lead.
However, Dupree never returned after the break because of an illness, and Lambert fell victim to Chattanooga's second-half woes and didn't score another point.
Western Carolina got to within seven with five quick points but UTC continued its offensive push and led 38-24 at the half.
A season-low eight turnovers and a 44-33 rebounding edge also helped the Lady Mocs overcome the Catamounts' rally.
"The difference was going 1-13 from behind the arc. We weren't shooting it as well as we were in the first half, but we did a lot of little things to make up for that in the second half," Lambert said. "As coach Moore said, 'we did enough to get the win'."
Chattanooga closes out its pre-Christmas schedule with a road trip to East Tennessee State Thursday. The game is set to tip at 7 p.m. ET.
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