Mocs blast Western Carolina in opening round of SoCon Tournament

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team cruised past Western Carolina Thursday morning 85-41 in the opening game of the Southern Conference Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.

“I thought we moved the ball well and we talked,” Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster said. “When we do those two things, we’re going to upset some pretty good teams.”

Chattanooga jumped out to a 30-8 first quarter lead, effectively shutting the door on a Catamount rally. Senior Queen Alford (Decatur, Ga.) had six points to cap off the Mocs 16-0 run over the final 4:19 of the opening period.

Western Carolina opened the second quarter with a buck from Sharae Bonner, but the Mocs stifled the Catamount offense, allowing just two field goals the remainder of the frame. UTC’s lead built to 49-15 at halftime.

Senior Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes and had five blocked shots and three assists. Sophomore Shelbie Davenport matched her career-high with a game-high 14 points. She was 4-of-5 from the field and made a pair of 3-pointers.

Junior Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) contributed 12 points in the win, making 2-of-3 from the 3-point line and dishing out a game-high four assists.

The Mocs shot a scorching 55 percent from the 3-point line making a season-high 20 treys. Chattanooga led the entire game and by as much as 52 with 3:04 to play in the game. Eight different UTC players hit from distance with Shumpert, Davenport and junior Aryanna Gilbert (Pulaski, Tenn.) each draining a pair.

Gilbert was 3-of-5 on the day for nine points and five rebounds with three assists. Sophomore Nakeia Burks (Huntsville, Ala.) had eight points and six rebounds and Alford added eight points.

The Mocs were 30-of-57 (52.6%) from the field and 14-of-22 from the free throw line. In the paint, UTC edged Western Carolina 30-28 and outdueled the Cats 23-5 on points off turnovers, capitalizing on 15 Catamount miscues.

The Mocs’ bench outscored Western Carolina 40-18, the most by Chattanooga’s reserves this season.

Chattanooga improves to 19-10 on the year and advances to the SoCon Tournament semifinal round to take on the winner of the Furman/UNCG game. Friday’s matchup will tip at 11:00 a.m.

Follow all the action live at Links for ESPN3 video and streaming audio from Real 96.1 FM along with live stats will be on the women’s basketball schedule page.

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