Lady Mocs roll into SoCon final with 68-55 win over Furman
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (GoMocs.com) --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sophomore Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) strung together her third straight double-double in a dominant performance, leading the Mocs to a 68-55 win over Furman in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center. The 17th-ranked Mocs will take on ETSU in the Championship game Sunday at 1 p.m.
Joyner posted topped her career-high set in the quarterfinals with 26 points and had 20 rebounds, matching her career-best set in the season-opener against Villanova. After going 4-of-12 from the free throw line against UNCG on Thursday, Joyner was 6-of-7 Friday morning.
“She's a terrific player and very coachable,” UTC head coach Jim Foster said. “When she learns how to front the post, she will be great. She just does good things out there.”
Senior Ka'Vonne Towns (Lilburn, Ga.) and freshman Keiana Gilbert (Columbia, Tenn.) chipped in 11 points apiece for the Mocs. Towns was 6-of-6 from the free throw line and added seven rebounds and three assists.
After leading 33-19 at the break, the Mocs opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt building its advantage to 20 points, 41-21 on a Gilbert jumper. Furman battled back to cut the lead to 48-35 on free throws from Brittany Hodges with 9:56 to play.
Chattanooga scored on its next four possessions to stretch the margin back to 17. Layups by Gilbert, sophomore Moses Johnson (Atlanta, Ga.) and junior Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) followed by a senior Destiny Bramblett's (Radcliff, Ky.) jumper came in an 88-second outburst. The Paladins chipped away and got within 11, 66-55, inside a minute to play, but the Mocs wouldn't let them any closer.
“I thought we controlled the tempo,” Foster said. “We changed a little bit and got off denial full court to make it a little bit harder for the point guard to get a full head of steam. I thought we did a pretty good job of paying attention, for the most part. We had a couple of miscommunications and misunderstandings, but we will address that as we go along.”
The Mocs used an 11-2 run to take control from the outset. Furman worked its way back, to five down, 16-11, on Bunn's 3-pointer at the 8:56 mark of the opening frame. UTC closed out the half 17-8 and led 33-19 at intermission.
Joyner posted her first career 20-20 performance. She pulled down nine of the Mocs' 20 offensive rebounds leading to 22 points for Chattanooga. UTC, with just five miscues, forced the Paladins into 15 leading to 20 points for the Mocs.
Chattanooga edged Furman 38-32 in the paint and had an 8-4 advantage off the bench.
Hodges led Furman with a double-double scoring a team-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. She had seven offensive boards and was 9-of-14 from the field. Whitney Bunn was 3-of-6 from the 3-point line and added 18 points in 39 minutes. Sarah Durdaller, who missed both regular season games against the Mocs, contributed 10 points, making 4-of-7 from the charity stripe.
Chattanooga improves to 28-3 on the year while the Paladins fall to 19-13 overall. The championship game is Sunday at 1 p.m., on ESPN3.com and on the air in Chattanooga on Legend at 96.1 FM. Access links to video, audio and live stats on GoMocs.com's women's basketball schedule page.