ASHEVILLE, N.C. (GoMocs.com) --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team (29-3) won its 15th Southern Conference Tournament Championship 71-45 over Davidson (16-16). It was the 25th win in a row for UTC who punched their dance card for the 12th time in school history and sixth in the last nine years.
Senior Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) was sensational scoring a career-high 22 points to lead four Mocs in double figures. Senior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) added 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Laura Murray scored 17 to lead the Wildcats. Dakota Dukes added 14 points and a game-high nine boards.
It was a see-saw battle early before the Mocs took control with a 13-2 run. The spurt was capped by Senior Meghan Downes' (Newnan, Ga.) 3-pointer at 7:47 as the shot clock expired. Dukes got the lead under 10 with a free throw with 3:38 to go in the first half, but that's as close it got. Chattanooga took a 13-point lead into the break.
Shneeka Center's jumper at 12:38 got the Wildcats within 11, 43-32, but it was all Chattanooga from there. Black started and finished a 15-2 run. Her 3-pointer at 6:40 made it 58-34 and put an exclamation point on a career night for the senior from Memphis.
From there it was about history. Murray's layup with 1:03 etched her name atop the Davidson record books. She passed former teammate Sophia Aleksandravicius by one point.
Chattanooga's Head Coach Jim Foster found a new first for his Hall of Fame career. He is the first NCAA Division I head coach to lead four different schools to the NCAA Tournament previously directing St. Joseph's, Vanderbilt and Ohio State as well.
The win extends the women's all-time SoCon Tournament record to 47-16 and also continued another win streak. The squad has a sterling 15-0 mark in finals appearances.
It was a dominating performance. The bench nearly out-scored the Wildcats with 33 total points. Junior Ka'Vonne Townes (Lilburn, Ga.) and senor Faith Dupree (Knoxville, Tenn.) each had 10 points leading the reserves. Chattanooga shot 48.3 percent from the field (29-60) including a 50 percent (7-14) performance beyond the arc.
As smooth as the offense was, the defense was suffocating. Chattanooga limited Davidson to 32.7 percent (18-55) from the floor with a mere three 3-point field goals (23.1%). The Wildcats were also forced into 17 turnovers which led to 21 points for the champs.
Three Chattanooga student-athletes were honored for their performances this weekend. Hall and Black earned first team all-tourney berths, while senior Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) was placed on the second team. Hall is the Most Outstanding Player, the 14th in school history.
The Lady Mocs capture the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This year's field learns its seeding and travel plans on Monday, March 17, at 7 p.m. The selection show airs on ESPN with a party planned for Jeffereson's on Georgia Avenue from 6-8 p.m.
Taylor Hall (Most Outstanding Player)
Ashlen Dewart, Chattanooga
Kelsey Harris, Elon
Sarah Duclaller, Furman
Anna Claire Knight, Georgia Southern
Rena Wakama, Western Carolina