CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (GoMocs.com)--- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team remains undefeated in Southern Conference action with a 63-50 win over Samford at the McKenzie Arena. The win was No. 800 for Chattanooga Hall of Fame Head Coach Jim Foster and the 35th consecutive home court victory for UTC, the longest active streak in the nation.
Chattanooga improves to 17-3 on the year and completes the first half of Southern Conference play with a stout 9-0 mark. Samford drops to 5-15 overall and 3-6 in league action.
After allowing Samford the first goal of the game, senior Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) reeled off the next eight points, including a 3-pointer and a three-point play to put Chattanooga out front 8-2.
The Bulldogs, however, battled back and would take a 16-15 lead on a pair of free throws from Ellen Riggins with 10:11 to go in the first. Chattanooga would not let that lead last long as four different players combined for nine points over the next 3:41 to put UTC up 24-16. Senior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) hit a 3-pointer with 58 second left in the half to give UTC its largest lead of the opening period, 33-21 and the Lady Mocs would lead 33-23 at intermission.
The second half started with the two teams trading buckets over the first 5:14 before Chattanooga put together a 6-0 run to get its largest lead of the game, 43-27, with 13:46 to play. The Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run of its own to cut the lead to 43-33 and would even get as close as nine points, 46-37 at the 8:44 mark, but Chattanooga would never trail in the final stanza.
Hall led all scorers with 22 points and tied her career-high for steals with six. She was 7-of-8 from the free throw line and dished out three assists while grabbing six boards. Dewart was the only other Chattanooga player in double figures with 10 points and had a team-high seven rebounds and four assists and added two blocked shots.
Senior Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) added seven points and four rebounds while senior Faith Dupree (Knoxville, Tenn.) had six points and for boards.
Samford was led in scoring by Riggins with 15 points and six rebounds. She was 4-of-4 from the free throw line and 5-of-7 from the field. Kassidy Blevins scored 13 points for the Bulldogs in 31 minutes on the floor while Hannah Nichols had nine points and six rebounds.
The game was tight inside with Chattanooga edging Samford 36-30 in the paint and 13-10 on second chance points. UTC forced 17 turnovers and scored 13 points compared to Samford's six points on 10 UTC mistakes. UTC was one shy of its season-high for steals with 12 and for the eighth time this year, had 10 or fewer turnovers.
The win was Chattanooga's 13th straight. Combined with the men's nine consecutive wins, UTC has 22, second longest in the country behind Wichita State's 33 (men 20, women 13). The win was also UTC's 25th straight Southern Conference regular season victory.
The Lady Mocs return to play next Saturday on the road at Davidson (9-10, 6-2 SoCon). The Wildcats' three-game win streak was snapped Saturday afternoon at Appalachian State (74-66). The game is set to tip at NOON Saturday at Belk Arena.
Following the game, the team gathered with Coach Foster, his family and friends and UTC administration to watch a video offering congratulations. The video featured his first assistant coaches Geno Auriemma (St. Joseph's 1978-79) and Muffett McGraw (St. Joseph's 1981) as well as former players Deb Patterson and Debbie Black and former UTC head coach Wes Moore. Attached to this story is a longer version of the video with many other offering their congratulations.
Foster, who entered the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame last year, improved his record to 800-310 in a career that also has included stops at St. Joseph's, Vanderbilt and Ohio State. The only other women's coaches with 800 wins are former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt (1,098-208), North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell (925-324), Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (916-336), Stanford's Tara VanDerveer (912-204), former Texas coach Jody Conradt (900-309), Bentley's Barbara Stevens (900-246), Auriemma (859-133), Georgia's Andy Landers (837-280), Montana's Robin Selvig (808-261) and Scranton's Michael Strong (804-180).
Foster and Stringer are the only men's or women's college coaches to win at least 200 games at three different schools. Foster went 248-126 at St. Joseph's from 1978-91, 256-99 at Vanderbilt from 1991-2002 and 279-82 at Ohio State from 2002-13. He is 17-3 overall and 9-0 in Southern Conference competition in his first season at Chattanooga.
Foster earned his milestone victory on the same day that Stevens, a Division II coach, got her 900th career win. Bentley defeated Saint Anselm 98-82.
"What that means is we both had good players and we're both old," the 66-year-old Foster quipped. "It's not something young people do."
Foster's the third coach to reach the 800-win mark this season. Selvig earned his 800th victory Nov. 18 and Strong won No. 800 on Jan. 11.