Mocs Open SoCon Play with Win Over UNCG - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mocs Open SoCon Play with Win Over UNCG

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. ( University of Tennessee at Chattanooga seniors Aryanna Gilbert and Keiana Gilbert combined for 24 points to lead the Mocs to a 49-42 Southern Conference opening win over UNCG Thursday night at the McKenzie Arena.

Keiana Gilbert was 6-of-8 from the free throw line for a team-high 14 points and pulled down a season-best eight boards while playing all 40 minutes. Aryanna Gilbert had 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals without a turnover in her 40 on the floor.

The win was Chattanooga’s 51st consecutive victory at home against the Southern Conference and the 31st of the Jim Foster era. The Mocs improve to 10-5 overall and the Spartans fall to 6-10.

Both teams struggled from the field with the Mocs shooting 31.6 percent, making 18-of-57 from the field and were just 4-of-14 from the 3-point line. The Spartans were held to 15-of-51 from the field and just 2-of-12 from long range.

“We were taking care of the ball and guarding well,” Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster said. “Shots just weren’t falling. We just kept doing what we were doing defensively. The freshmen did a great job for us.”

The Mocs started the game with a pair of layups to take a 4-2 lead on UNCG, but the Spartans responded with and 8-0 run for their largest lead of the game at 10-4 with 3:24 to play in the opening period.

Chattanooga would catch up but not overtake UNCG until just before halftime on a layup from Shelbie Davenport with 55 seconds remaining in the half to give UTC a 23-21 lead heading into the break.

“We take what the other team gives us,” Foster said. They were extended on Lakelyn [Bouldin] and Ary [Gilbert]. Foster said. “That made feeding the post a lot easier so that became our best option.”

The Spartans came out of intermission and retook the lead, 38-36 with 3:34 to play in the third quarter. The Mocs fired back with a 14-0 run that ran into the fourth quarter and would not trail the remainder of the game. Lakelyn Bouldin hit a 3-pointer with 6:21 play in the contest to give the Mocs their biggest lead of the game, 43-29.

The Spartans would not be held back, however, as they made a push over the final 5:35 behind seven points from Ije Ajemba and four from Nadine Soliman, cutting Chattanooga’s lead to 46-42 with 49 second to play.

Keiana Gilbert made three of her final four free throw attempts to seal Foster’s 896th career victory. He is ranked seventh among all NCAA Division I head coaches for wins and needs just four to reach 900.

The Mocs’ freshmen saw significant playing time with Bria Dial on the court for a majority of the time. She had a career-high three 3-pointers for nine points with two assists and a pair of blocked shots. Rochelle Lee played a career-high 18 minutes and topped her season-best for rebounds with five and added four points for the Mocs. Brooke Burns had three rebounds and Mya Long put up a strong defense in her return to the court after missing several games due to illness.

Ajemba led all scorers with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Soliman was the other Spartan in double figures with 10 points and had seven rebounds.

The teams played even in the paint with UTC holding a narrow 24-22 edge. The Mocs turned 15 UNCG turnovers into 17 points while Chattanooga had just nine turnovers, matching a season-low for the third time. The Spartans edged the Mocs on the boards 40-37 and had nine second chance points to just four for Chattanooga.

The Mocs remain at home and will host Western Carolina Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at the McKenzie Arena. There will be free “Gold Rush” t-shirts before the game and at halftime, the high-flying, electric elite dunk team “AcroDunk” will perform at halftime!

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