It was a gift well received to celebrate an historic achievement.
Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster joined an exclusive club Thursday night with the Mocs' win over Western Carolina. He became just the eighth coach in NCAA women's basketball history, at all levels, to reach the 900-win plateau.
On hand to help with the celebration was Mark Wharton, Chattanooga Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. He greeted Foster with a commemorative bottle of Opus One.
The wine, a donation from Athens Distributing, had a special label made for the occasion along with a signature from the maker.
Foster, tied with Jody Conradt for seventh, he becomes the eighth fastest to 900 wins, reaching it in his 1,242ndgame.
"I've got really good players and really good assistant coaches," Foster said. "When I'm done, I might look back and think about things. I just don't look at things that way. For me, we got a little bit better today and we've got to get a little bit better tomorrow and get a little bit better next week."
The Mocs got past Western Carolina Thursday evening 58-41 at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, N.C., to move to 14-8 overall and 5-3 in Southern Conference action. The Catamounts fall to 4-19 on the year and 0-8 in league play.
Sophomore Lakelyn Bouldin hit a 3-pointer with 4:47 to play in the second quarter, snapping a 12-2 run by the Cats, to make it 18-14. That started an 18-0 run that spanned two quarters, giving UTC a 19-point lead with 5:24 to play in the third quarter.
Senior Keiana Gilbert led the Mocs with 16 points and four assists. She was 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from the 3-point line. Sophomore Arianne Whitaker recorded her second double-double this season with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She added in a pair of steals and blocked shots.
Freshman Brooke Burns had a career night with 10 points, three rebounds and four assists. Bouldin added eight points and senior Aryanna Gilbert had five points, five assists and three steals.
Chattanooga got out to a 13-2 lead over the first seven minutes, but the Cats responded, outscoring the Mocs 12-2 over the next 6:15 to pull to within a point at 15-14 with 6:29 to play in the first half. That was stopped by the Mocs' 18-0 run.
The Mocs shot just 35.7 in the opening frame but responded each quarter and averaged 52 percent over the final two periods. UTC was 24-of-53 from the field and 7-of-23 from beyond the arc.
Western Carolina was held to a 27.6 percent performance, making 16-of-58 for the game and was 3-of-17 from long range.
The Catamounts outrebounded UTC 44-30 with 20 coming off the offensive glass. They converted that into 11 second chance points compared to the Mocs' five.
Chattanooga edged WCU 24-22 in the paint and had 15 points off 15 Catamount miscues while giving up 12 points on 10 turnovers.
Judith Martin Ruiz led Western Carolina with 12 points. She added six rebounds and a team-high three assists, two blocked shots and two steals. Sherae Bonner, coming off the bench, had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Mocs remain on the road to take on UNCG Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Follow all the action online at GoMocs.com.
FOSTER'S COACHING HISTORY
Jim Foster began his collegiate career at St. Joseph's. He was hired by Athletics Director Don DiJulia to head the program in 1978. Over 13 seasons at the helm of the Hawks, Foster posted a record of 248-126 (.663). At St. Joe's he led the Hawks to the AIAW tournament in his first season. After the NCAA began hosting women's championships, he led the Hawks' to six NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the second round four times.
His first collegiate win was a 75-52 decision over Delaware on December 5, 1978. His 100th victory was a 76-75 squeaker over Oklahoma on January 5, 1985. His 200th victory came against Temple, his alma mater, on February 13, 1989 by a 65-58 margin.
In 1991 he became the head coach at Vanderbilt. In his 11 seasons, the Commodores won three SEC Tournament tiles and had two runner-up finishes. He led Vanderbilt to three Sweet 16 appearances, four Elite Eight and the 1993 Final Four. The 25th anniversary of that achievement will be celebrated Sunday, February 4 when Vanderbilt takes on Tennessee.
His record at Vanderbilt was 256-99 (.721). He won his 300th game against Louisiana Tech in the NCAA Tournament on March 27, 1993. Less than four years later, Foster would record his 400th win over North Texas on November 30, 1997 by a 91-41 margin. In the SEC Tournament in 2002, the Commodores would give him his 500th victory, defeating Arkansas 81-78.
He moved on to Ohio State the following year and went on to be named Big Ten Coach of the Year four times. In 11 seasons, he led the Buckeyes to the NCAA Tournament 10 times with three forays into the Sweet 16.
Foster coached Ohio State for 11 seasons posting an overall record of 279-82 (.773). His 600th win was a resounding 69-38 win over Michigan State in the 2005-06 regular season. Four seasons later, his 700thwin would be an 86-60 win over Northwestern on the last day of 2009.
With the departure of long-time head coach Wes Moore to NC State, Foster became the fifth coach in Chattanooga women's basketball history. He was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame just after he was hired to lead the Mocs.
On January 25, 2014, he won his 800th game with a 63-50 victory over Samford in front of his new home crowd. He is 116-35 (.768) in four seasons at Chattanooga and has led the Mocs to four regular season and tournament titles.
In the 2015-16 season, the Mocs posted it's first-ever wins over two Top 10 opponents defeating No. 4 Tennessee and No. 7 Stanford at home. The Mocs entered the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Top 25 and climbed to their highest ranking in school history.
FOSTER'S COACHING NOTES
• Women's Basketball Hall of Fame - 2013
• First Division I coach to take four different teams to the NCAA Tournament
• First coach to have four teams ranked in the AP Top 25 and AP Preseason Top 25
• 900 career wins – Tied (Jody Conradt) for sixth all-time among DI coaches; fifth among DI active coaches
• Tied (Conradt) for seventh all-time for all levels in NCAA history for career wins (active and non-active), sixth all-time among active coaches for career wins
• Four-time member of selection committee for USA Basketball
• First male elected president of the WBCA
• 39th fastest to 600 career wins (600-252) reached in 28th season on Feb. 20, 2006
• 17th fastest to 700 career wins (700-273) reached in 32nd season on Dec. 31, 2009
• 13th fastest to 800 career wins (800-310) reached in 36th season on Jan. 25, 2014
• Eighth fastest to 900 career wins (900-342) reached in 40th season on Feb. 1, 2018
• 31 Postseason appearances in 39 years – 30 NCAA Tournaments | AIAW Tournament
• One Final Four (Vanderbilt, 1993)
• Four Elite Eights (Vanderbilt, 1992, 1996, 2001, 2002)
• Six Sweet Sixteens (Vanderbilt, 1994, 1995, 1997 – Ohio State, 2005, 2009, 2011)
• One of only two collegiate coaches – men's or women's at any level – to record 200 wins at three different schools
• 2015 SoCon Coach of the Year
• Four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (2005-07, 09)
• 1993 United States Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year
• 1985 NCAA Coach of the Year honors (team was 25-5, won A10 title and made NCAA tournament)
• Four-Time TSWA Coach of the Year (2 Vanderbilt, 2 Chattanooga)
• Three SEC Tournament titles ('93, '95, '02) – runner up ('94, '01)
International Coaching Experience:
2003 Young Women's National Team - Head Coach, Gold Medal
1997 World University Games - Head Coach, Gold Medal
1993 Junior National Team - Head Coach
1992 Olympic Team - Assistant Coach, Bronze Medal
1991 Junior National Team - Head Coach
1990 World Championship Team - Assistant Coach, Gold Medal
1989 World Junior Championships - Assistant Coach
1987 Olympic Festival - Assistant Coach, Gold Medal