ASHEVILLE, N.C. (GoMocs.com)--- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team will face off against instate foe ETSU Sunday afternoon in the Championship game of the Southern Conference Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The Mocs, ranked 17th in the nation, came into the tournament as the top seed with a 14-0 league mark. Chattanooga opened play with a 78-44 win over eighth-seeded UNCG and followed that with a 68-55 win over No. 5 Furman.
Sophomore Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) has been the talk of the tourney with back-to-back career games. She posted a then-career-best 22 points against the Spartans, making 9-of-10 from the field. Against the Paladins the following day, she dominated the game with a career-high 26 points and matched her all-time high for rebounds with 20. She has recorded seven blocked shots in the tournament, increasing her league record to 125.
The Bucs got past No. 7 seed Western Carolina 73-53 in the opening game. The Catamounts held a tenuous one-point lead at halftime against the Bucs, but could hold on as ETSU outscored Western Carolina 47-26 in the second half to secure a 20-point win. Tianna Tarter led four Bucs in double figures with 14 and Maria Bond recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Three ETSU players combined for 46 points and 37 rebounds in the Bucs' 66-56 win against third-seeded Mercer. All three posted double-doubles with Destiny Mitchell leading the scoring with 16 points and 11 boards. Tarter had 15 points and 15 rebounds while Serena Clark added 15 points of her own to go with 11 boards.
Chattanooga won both games against the Bucs in the regular season. In the first game in Johnson City, the Mocs trailed for the majority of the first half, but ETSU could not get more than a four-point lead. UTC led 27-25 at the half, but the Bucs managed to briefly on a layup by Clark less than five minutes into the latter frame.
It did not take the Mocs long to regain the lead. Sophomore Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) hit a 3-pointer with 14:22 to play, sparking an 11-4 UTC run and the Mocs went on to take the game 64-56. Shumpert led all scorers with 22 points, making 4-of-7 from the 3-point line. Towns who went 7-of-8 from the free throw line down the stretch had 13 points while Destiny Bramblett added 10 points from the bench. Joyner was held to seven points but had five blocked shots.
At home, the game was much different with Tarter out of the lineup for the Bucs. Chattanooga started the game on a 15-0 run and led 31-13 at halftime. UTC shot 52.1 percent from the field and was 7-of-18 from beyond the arc. Joyner led UTC with 14 points and 14 rebounds and Towns was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, tossing in 14 points of her own.
ETSU had three players in double figures with 13 from Mitchell, 12 from Shamauria Bridges and 11 from Bond. The Bucs shot 39.5 percent, with a 12-of-22 (54.5%) in the second half. UTC forced 19 turnovers and had 11 steals in the matchup.
The game is set to tip off at 1 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. The game will be aired live on ESPN3 and on the radio at 96.1 FM The Legend. Links for live stats as well as video and audio streaming are available at GoMocs.com.