KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (GoMocs.com)--- The season ended earlier than hoped for as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team fell 51-40 to the University of Pittsburgh Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Seventh-seeded Chattanooga never led in the defensive battle and shot just 26.2 percent for the game. Sophomore Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Tenn.) led the Mocs with 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots before fouling out with 1:47 to play. Junior Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) added nine points of 3-of-5 shooting and made the Mocs only two free throws. Freshman Keiana Gilbert (Columbia, Tenn.) had eight points and eight rebounds along with a pair of steals.
Pitt, seeded 10th in the tournament, got out to an 11-2 lead on Chattanooga over the first 5:41 of the game before senior Destiny Bramblett (Radcliff, Ky.) hit a three pointer from up top to spark a 15-7 run that got the Mocs to within a point, 18-17 with 6:46 to go in the half.
Gilbert had a putback on an offensive board to tie it up 19-19 at the 4:25 mark of the opening frame and Joyner knotted it up 1:15 later with a layup but that's the closest UTC would get the rest of the way and the Panthers led 25-21 at the break.
The second half saw Pitt pull away with four quick points to make it 29-21 less than two minutes into the period. However, UTC still had some fire remaining and tied the contest up a fourth time on Payne's free throws with 12:05 to play to cap off a 12-4 run.
The Panthers' offense, however, stepped back up and opened up a 10-point lead allowing UTC just two points over the next seven minutes, a layup from Joyner.
Pitt shot 44.2 percent in the game and was 12-of-15 from the free throw line. Stasha Carey was 6-of-7 from the charity stripe and posted a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Brianna Kiesel was 5-of-9 with 13 points and Aysia Bugg added in eight. Yacine Diop and Monica Wignot had seven rebounds apiece.
Pitt edged UTC 28-24 in the paint and had 14 points off 10 Chattanooga turnovers while the Mocs scored 11 points off 14 Panther miscues. Chattanooga won the rebound battle by a narrow 37-36 margin with 18 offensive boards.
The 17th-ranked Mocs close out the year with its third straight 29-4 overall record and fall to 1-13 all-time in the NCAA. The loss snaps Chattanooga's 25-game win streak, tied for third longest in school history.