ASHEVILLE, NC (WRCB) -- The University of Tennessee women's basketball team was well-rested heading into the Southern Conference Tournament, and it showed in the Lady Mocs' opener Saturday afternoon.
UTC used a strong finishing kick to overcome a sluggish start in a 78-53 rout of Georgia Southern in the quarterfinal round at UNC Asheville's Kimmel Arena.
It wasn't a performance that head coach Wes Moore will rave about, but it still sends the Lady Mocs into Sunday's semifinal round at U.S. Cellular Center across town.
"I always think the team that played the day before has an advantage in the first ten minutes because they've gotten those tournament jitters out of the way," Moore said. "It took us awhile to get going, but then obviously it becomes our advantage in the second half having the extra day off."
That advantage came into play a little earlier than the second half against the Eagles, whom Chattanooga had already beaten twice this season by a combined 49 points.
With Ashlen Dewart bottled up in the post most of the afternoon, the Lady Mocs caught fire from the outside. Kayla Christopher and Kylie Lambert hit back-to-back 3-pointers as part of a 17-7 run to close the first half, turning a 25-all tie into a 10-point UTC lead at the break.
"They were really doubling down on the post, our post players did a great job of kicking it back out to us and helping us find places to get open," said Alex Black. "It was definitely one of our best shooting games of the year. It was good time to have a good game and get some confidence moving forward."
Chattanooga finished 11-of-23 from 3-point range on the day, including a trio of triples from Black. The junior point guard finished with a team-high 13 points on 3-5 shooting from long-range.
UTC held the Eagles scoreless for a five-minute stretch early in the second half, ripping off a 15-0 run that blew the game open. Kayla Christopher and Faith Dupree each added 12 points apiece, while Dewart finished with just eight on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor.
"I thought overall it was a good game and it gives us a nice little confidence boost going into tomorrow," Christopher said. "We always want to be playing our best this time of year and start building momentum, and I think we took another step towards that today."
Chattanooga has now won 17 in a row, but will be trying to avoid its third straight loss in the SoCon semifinals on Sunday. UTC will face either Appalachian State or College of Charleston at 12 p.m. ET, having swept both during the regular season.