ASHEVILLE, N.C. ( --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team made a fourth quarter run, but couldn't stop the Paladins, falling 73-67 in the semifinal round of the Ingles Southern Conference Championships presented by General Shale at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C., Friday afternoon.
The Mocs trailed Furman 59-54 heading into the final quarter. Paladin Celena Taborn put in a layup to start the period and pushed the lead to seven. Lakelyn Bouldin drew the foul and kicked off a 9-0 Chattanooga run the front half of the fourth quarter. That run was capped off by a five-point effort from freshman Abbey Cornelius to give the Mocs their first lead of the game, 63-61 with 3:42 to play.
"They've got the fight and the will within them to continue just to fight, especially with all the things stacked up against us," Chattanooga head coach Katie Burrows said. "And no, we did not shoot the 3-point shots well but when you go back and look at film, there were several that we could've hit within the paint and we do normally. But that just didn't go our way this evening."
That run was snapped when Furman reeled off six quick points behind a 3-pointer from Milica Manojlovic and a Tierra Hodges old-fashioned 3-point play. That, coupled with six straight free throws, equated to a 12-0 run by the Paladins. The Mocs got the final two scores of the game with senior Shelbie Davenportfinding the basket one last time for the final score, 73-67.
Brooke Burns led the Mocs with a game-high tying 18 points, making 7-of-14 from the field and was 3-of-4 from deep. She had two assists and two blocked shots in the matchup and played all 40 minutes. Lakelyn Bouldin also stayed off the bench for the entire game and had 13 points, four rebounds and five assists.
Chattanooga was 21-of-62 from the field and 6-of-23 from long range while Furman was 23-of-55 and hit for eight from beyond the arc. Both team made 19 free throws in the effort with UTC shooting 79.2 percent (19-of-24) and Furman shot 95 percent from the charity stripe making 19-of-20.
Furman outrebounded the Mocs 44-32 with both teams grabbing 11 off the offensive glass. Furman converted its boards into 13 second chance points compared to UTC's six. The played fairly even in the paint at 26-24 Furman. The Paladins had 12 fast break points, with all coming in the first half.
Furman shot 70.6 percent (12-17) in the first quarter compared to the Mocs' 5-of-18 effort (27.8%) and led 29-17 after the first 10 minutes. The Paladins got 14 of their points in the paint that period and had six fastbreak points in the frame.
"Well, you never want it to end, obviously," Burrow said. "Unfortunately, we came out hot last night and we did not today and they did. When you've got a first-quarter deficit where they're shooting 70 percent and we're shooting 27 percent, that's a killer. And so to dig out of that hole made it very difficult for us.
Chattanooga settled into the second and cut the lead in half, making it 43-37 at the half with a 20-14 second quarter advantage. UTC continued to chip at the lead but it would not be the fourth until the rock cracked, but did not break.
The Mocs close out the season at 14-17 and say goodbye to seniors Shelbie DavenportNaKeia Burksand Molly Melton.
Furman was led in scoring by Le' Jzae Davidson's 18 points. She was 4-of-11 from the 3-point line and played all 40 minutes. Tierra Hodges posted her second double-double of the tournament with 14 points and 13 rebounds. She was 4-of-5 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Also in double figures for Furman was Celena Taborn and Manojlovic with 13 apiece and combined for 13 rebounds and Taylor Petty added 11 in the game.
The Paladins are 19-12 overall and will take on Mercer in the final Sunday at Noon at the U.S. Cellular Center. It will be the fourth straight final for the Bears and the first for Furman since 2000 when they beat UNCG 68-49.