Mocs women roll into SoCon Championship game

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball cruised past UNCG 75-53 to advance to its 18th Southern Conference Tournament final. Chattanooga improves to 20-10 overall for its 21st 20-win season. UNCG falls to 17-14 on the year.

The game was tight through most of the first two quarters with the Mocs tying the game 7-7 on a 3-pointer from freshman Lakelyn Bouldin (Spencer, Tenn.) with 4:17 to play in the opening period. Junior Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.) converted a three-point play to put the Mocs up 10-7 and UTC would not trail the rest of the way.

The Spartans got as close as one point on three occasions, the last being a layup from UNCG’s Nadine Soliman with 8:46 to play in the second quarter to make it 16-15. The Mocs outscored UNCG 15-9 the rest of the frame to lead 31-24 at halfime.

Chattanooga opened the third quarter on a 9-1 run. Junior Aryanna Gilbert forced a Spartan turnover and converted it into a layup. After a free throw by Soliman, the Mocs forced two more turnovers and increased the lead 40-25 with 7:40 to play in the third on a layup from senior Queen Alford (Decatur, Ga.).

The Spartans scored the next two buckets to cut Chattanooga’s lead to 40-29 at the 6:26 mark of the third, and that’s as close as it would get the rest of the way. The Mocs led 49-33 after three periods.

The Mocs started the fourth on an 11-3 run, making it a 21-point game, 62-41, with 5:19 to play on a layup from Gilbert. An 11-2 run that started on a free throw from Gilbert, was capped off 2:01 later on a pair of free throws from senior Sydney Vanlandingham (Hermitage, Tenn.) with 1:08 to play to give Chattanooga its largest lead of the game, 75-49.

Chattanooga had just two turnovers in the second half, both in the third and had seven assists to no miscues in the final period. The two teams traded points in the paint, 34-34 but the Mocs capitalized on 16 Spartan turnovers for 19 points, allowing just two points on eight turnovers. UNCG outrebounded Chattanooga 38-35 but the Mocs managed 10 second chance points on 14 offensive boards.

Senior Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) led Chattanooga with 19 points and 10 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season. She had four blocked shots to move past Duke’s Alison Bales (2004-07) for eighth on the NCAA’s all-time list with 436.

Shumpert was 8-of-9 from the free throw line and had 18 points. She added in four rebounds, three assists and matched her season-high for steals with three. Bouldin was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc to take over the freshman 3-point record with 60 this season. She was the third Chattanooga player in double figures with 16 points and three assists.

Alford had seven of the Mocs’ 13 bench points and pulled down four rebounds to reach 600 for her career at UTC and Jacksonville.

Chattanooga was 25-of-57 (43.9%) from the field and 5-of-15 (33.3%) from the 3-point line. At the charity stripe, the Mocs were 20-of-23 for the second most made free throws this season. UTC was 11-of-13 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

The Mocs had 15 assists to just eight turnovers and tied their season-high for steals with 10, led by Gilbert’s four.

UNCG’s Soliman led all scorers with 26 points, making 11-of-21 attempts and three from the 3-point line. Te’ja Twitty had a team-high nine rebounds and six points and Mangela Ngandjui chipped in eight points. The Spartans were 24-of-60 (40%) from the field and 4-of-15 from the 3-point line and made just one free throw in seven tries.

The Mocs will take on the winner of the No. 2 Mercer/No. 6 Samford game. The final will tip at 1:00 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center.

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