CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The "drought" is over.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team used a second-half surge to pull away from Davidson in a 68-59 win and clinch the outright Southern Conference regular season championship.
It's the twelfth title in Wes Moore's 15 years as Lady Mocs' coach, but the first since 2010. UTC finished third in the regular season standings the past two years.
"We just didn't want to lose tonight," said senior Kayla Christopher, who scored 11 points in the final home game of her UTC career. "We may have not always done the right thing, but our team played with a lot of energy and played very hard.
"This is what our goal was at the beginning of the year. We wanted to do something special, something that hadn't been done in a couple of years and I believe we accomplished that."
Ashlen Dewart poured in 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds to fuel the victory, which was Chattanooga's 15th consecutive win. The Lady Mocs (25-3, 18-1 in SoCon play) also set a new school record with their 26th straight win at home, a streak that dates back to March of 2011 and ranks as the second-longest active run in the nation.
"It's great to be back after a two-year hiatus to be back up here. It was very important (to win this) for our kids, and also for our fans, they've been awesome," said head coach Wes Moore, whose team set a new school attendance record this season with an average of 2,550 fans per game. "I always think the regular season is a big deal. The tournament is three days, but the regular season is three months. To me, that's the measure of a team.
"I'm happy for our kids, and proud of what they've done."
Davidson opened an early five-point lead, but UTC used a 10-2 run to move in front late in the first half. Dewart capped it with a three-point play at the 3:17 mark for a 26-23 lead, and the Lady Mocs never trailed again.
The Wildcats, who entered the night one game behind Chattanooga in the SoCon standings, remained within striking distance and trailed by just five after two free throws from Barbara Sitton with 7:43 to play.
Christopher answered with a 3-pointer on UTC's next possession to spark a 10-4 run that pushed the lead to double figures and secured the win.
"We made some big plays defensively. To hold that team to 59 points is pretty impressive," Moore said. "Ashlen Dewart has been phenomenal the last few weeks, Taylor Hall and Kayla Christopher hit some big shots for us. Tatianna Jackson, Alicia Payne, both of those freshmen are coming on, and they did some big things for us.
"I think that's probably been the biggest part of our success is that we have so many people that on a given night that can step up, and help us overcome maybe one or two people who are struggling."
Chattanooga shot 50-percent from the floor (27-of-54) and forced 17 Davidson turnovers on 12 steals. Led by Dewart's impressive 11-of-13 effort from the field, the Lady Mocs also out-scored the Wildcats 44-28 in the paint.
"This was a big game for us and we wanted to send our seniors out right for their last home game," Dewart said. "It's a great honor to be the team that brought this back to Chattanooga, but by no means are we complacent or happy with where we are.
"We still have to fight and we still have to play the rest of the season."
UTC clinches the top seed for the upcoming Southern Conference Tournament in Asheville (March 8-11), but first must wrap up the regular season with a 4:30 p.m. ET tip-off this Saturday at Appalachian State.
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