Lady Mocs hold off App to clinch spot in SoCon final - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lady Mocs hold off App to clinch spot in SoCon final

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ASHEVILLE, NC (WRCB) -- Darcie Vincent cringes whenever she looks at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's lineup.

But it's not Ashlen Dewart or Kayla Christopher that worries the Appalachian State head coach.

It's Taylor Hall.

And in Sunday's semifinal matchup in the Southern Conference Tournament, Vincent's anxiety was explained.

Hall scored all 17 of her points in the second half and was perfect at the free throw line to lead the Lady Mocs back to SoCon final for the first time since 2010 with a 72-67 win at the U.S. Cellular Center.

"That girl is the biggest thorn in our side," Vincent said. "She was scoreless at the half and comes out in the second and just finds points. She just finds a way."

Top-seeded Chattanooga (28-3) has now won 18 consecutive games heading into Monday afternoon's showdown with second-seeded Davidson, where it will try to snap a two-year NCAA Tournament drought.

The Lady Mocs swept both meetings with the Wildcats during the regular season.

Hall was a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity stripe, including four in the final 13 seconds that sealed the win. The performance marks the second-most free throws in school history in a single game without a miss.

"I knew I had to knock them down," said Hall, who finished just 3-of-9 from the field. "For a while, we weren't really attacking much. Once we started attacking, they kept fouling and I was able to knock my (free throws) down."

Ashlen Dewart added 16 points and Alex Black finished with 11 as UTC avoided a third straight loss in the semifinal round.

The tight game played out vastly different from the Lady Mocs' 24-point rout of the Mountaineers in Boone just eight days ago.

"I knew today would be different," Moore said. "They start four seniors, so you knew they were going to lay it all out there, and they did."

The game was close throughout, with Chattanooga's eight-point advantage late in the first half proving to be the largest lead of the contest.

Appalachian State opened its biggest cushion at 60-55 on a Raven Gary layup with 6:08 to play, but the Lady Mocs rattled off six straight points to move back in front. After another ASU bucket Dewart and Kylie Lambert hit back-to-back field goals to cap a 10-2 run that gave Chattanooga a 65-62 lead with 2:36 left.

Maryah Sydnor trimmed the lead to 68-67 with a 3-pointer from the right wing, but then rushed and missed a game-tying attempt from the same spot on App's next possession after Christopher made one-of-two free throws.

Hall grabbed the rebound and sank two free throws at the other end to ice the victory.

"Down the stretch, I felt like our kids made plays when they needed to, which is what they've been doing all year long," said Chattanooga head coach Wes Moore. "I'm really proud of the way they hung in there when things were a little shaky and were able to make plays down the stretch to pull it out."

Gary led four Appalachian State players in double figures with 19 points, but she missed 13 of her 19 shots from the field. Courtney Freeman finished with 12 points, while Sydnor and Katie Mallow added 10 points apiece.

After hitting 11-of-23 3-point attempts in Saturday's rout of Georgia Southern, UTC made just 4-of-17 (23.5-percent) attempts against the Mountaineers. The Lady Mocs found success by going inside in the second half, hitting 10-of-16 2-point field goals as Hall and Dewart combined for 27 points after the break.

"This is where we wanted to be, but we know we aren't finished yet," Christopher said. "We have to keep our focus. We can celebrate this for a couple hours, but there is a quick turnaround and we need to make sure we switch our focus."

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