CHATTANOOGA (UTC/WRCB) -- Sophomores Faith Dupree and Meghan Downes combined to score 42 points to help the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga overcome the loss of their top two scorers in an 80-65 Southern Conference victory over Elon on Monday night at the McKenzie Arena.
Kayla Christopher was scratched from the lineup just before tip-off with an illness. Downes got her first career start in her place and responded with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field.
"It was last minute. We were warming up and they said that Kayla was sick, so I ended up taking her spot," Downes said. "It's probably better I didn't have any time to dwell on it. It probably would make me a little more nervous."
Dupree scored a career-high 24 points in a career-high 27 minutes off the bench after UTC's leading scorer Whitney Hood was sidelined with a sore knee early in the first half.
"With people being sick and injured, we had to have somebody step up. It happened to be us tonight, but there was a lot of people that contributed to the win," said Dupree, who hit 9-of-18 shots from the floor and added four rebounds. "I think it says that we are an all-around good team. We play together well and are able to step up when needed too.
"It is going to be different people each game. We can always count on somebody each game."
It turned out to be a career night for more than just Downes and Dupree.
Ka'Vonne Towns added a career-high 11 points and three steals off the bench, while senior point guard Tenisha Townsend dished out a career-best nine assists.
Taylor Hall was the fourth UTC player in double figures, recording her fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"To lose two starters and our two leading scorers within a couple of hours before tipoff, that doesn't do a whole lot for your confidence and patience. Our kids stepped up and I'm really proud," head coach Wes Moore said. "In the long run it's probably good for us because it was a team win.
"I'm really proud of our kids for not hanging their heads and not feeling sorry for themselves, but coming out and getting it done."
Despite the loss of Hood and Christopher, the Lady Mocs (15-6, 10-2 in SoCon) didn't skip a beat in the first half. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Downes sparked a 31-8 run gave Chattanooga a 35-15 lead with 4:11 to play before the break.
After pulling to within 17 at intermission, Elon (10-11, 6-6) clawed to within 12 points at 51-39 before UTC slammed the door shut.
Freshman Kayla Freeman, Dupree and Towns combined to score the Lady Mocs' next 14 points for a 65-47 lead with 6:25 to play. Twice more Chattanooga got its lead up to 19 points to cruise to the 15-point win.
Chattanooga got 44 points from its bench, turned 19 Elon turnovers into 25 points and converted 20-of-25 free throws to overcome another poor shooting night overall. UTC was just 44.4-percent (28-63) from the field and 25-percent (4-of-16) from 3-point range, yet still managed to hit the 80-point mark for the second time this season.
"I think it's good for the players to experience that success and hopefully that is going to help their confidence," Moore said. "I told Faith before the game, 'We're going to need you tonight,' and needed her to step up and she did. Meghan has the best jump shot on our team probably. She's just got to make sure she stays under control.
"Both of them get in a hurry sometimes and get a little over anxious. Maybe tonight will help in that regard."
Elon was led by Aiesha Harper and Ali Ford's 18 points.
Chattanooga will be on the road this weekend for a 6 p.m. ET meeting with Wofford on Saturday. The Terriers are 10-11 overall and 3-9 in the Southern Conference after recording a win over Georgia Southern at home on Monday night.
Information provided by UTC Sports Information and GoMocs.com.
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