Mocs put out Lady Flames on Thanksgiving Eve at McKenzie Arena
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga put together a strong first half and held off Liberty’s second half push to grab a 75-60 win at the McKenzie Arena Wednesday night. Chattanooga improves to 3-2 overall and Liberty falls to 1-3 on the year.
The Mocs started the game with the first seven points, punctuated by the first of three treys from Lakelyn Bouldin. After the Flames hit a pair of free throws to make it a 7-2 game, Bouldin hit for her second and the Mocs moved out to a 12-2 lead following a pair of free throws from Shelbie Davenport.
“Tonight we started right out of the gate, clicking,” Chattanooga head coach Katie Burrows said. “I knew when Lakelyn hit her first three. She hit her first one and I was like ‘okay’. She hit her second one and I was like ‘oh boy’. Then Brooke hits one and I’m like okay finally here we go.”
The Mocs shot 50 percent from long range making 9-of-18, the most in a game this season. Bouldin was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and finished with 11 points. Mya Long, one of four Chattanooga players in double figures, was 3-of-4 from the 3-point line and 5-of-7 from the field for a season-best 13 points.
Freshman Eboni Williams led the Mocs with a season-high 15 points. She was 3-of-7 from the field and 8-of-10 from the charity stripe. Senior Shelbie Davenport was the fourth Chattanooga player in double figures with 10 points. She was 4-of-7 and grabbed five rebounds.
Burrows was able to clear the bench for the first time this season. Freshman Pare Pene got her first up close look at American basketball and used the skills she learned in New Zealand to calmly sink a 3-pointer from the corner for her fifth point of the game. She was 2-for-2 on the night in just over two minutes on the floor.
Also making her debut for UTC was freshman walk-on Liz Wood. She passed up her chance to take a shot, but sent it along to set up Pene’s 3-pointer.
After taking a 23-13 lead in the first quarter the Mocs continued its push and held the Flames to just four points in the second and Chattanooga led 37-17 at halftime.
“I told them it’s very easy to lose a 20-point lead,” Burrows said. “We had a 20-point deficit on Monday and that was our goal, to chip away. We actually won the second half on Monday. So I just kept reminding them that it just takes a few shots and they’re back in it, so we have to stay tight.”
Liberty’s Emily Lytle scored 19 of her game-high 21 points in the second half with 14 coming in the fourth quarter alone. She was 8-of-15 for the game and 4-of-9 from the arc. Kierra Johnson-Graham scored 14 points off the bench making 6-of-9 and the two each had a team-best six rebounds. The Flames edged the Mocs 43-38 in the final 20 minutes.
They shot 11-of-16 (68.8%) in the fourth quarter and were 42.9 percent from the floor for the game. They made 7-of-19 from long range and were 5-of-11 from the free throw line.
Other strong contributors for the Mocs were freshman Abbey Cornelius with six points and a game-best six rebounds with three assists in her first collegiate start. Senior Molly Melton dished out five assists and had five steals and grabbed a season-best four rebounds in 27 minutes. Brooke Burns, with a 3-pointer, had seven points for Chattanooga off the bench with three boards.
Chattanooga was 25-of-54 from the field and 9-for-18 from the 3-point line. The Mocs shot 80 percent from the free throw line, making 16-of-20. The teams matched each other in the paint with 30 points apiece and Chattanooga had 15 points off 18 Liberty turnovers. Chattanooga outrebounded the Flames 36-30 and had a 12-6 advantage on second chance points from 11 offensive boards.
The Mocs’ bench behind 28 points from Long and Williams, outscored Liberty’s reserves 45-25. UTC had 14 assists and 18 turnovers with 11 steals.
After spending five days in Virginia last weekend, Chattanooga will return to the Old Dominion state with a pair of games at Virginia in the Cavalier Classic. UTC will take on Saint Louis Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and mid-major powerhouse Central Michigan Sunday in a 1:00 p.m. matchup. Follow all the action online at GoMocs.com.