Chattanooga was in control for all but a few minutes of Thursday’s Southern Conference opener at McKenzie Arena. Those handful of minutes put quite a scare into the Lady Mocs, though.
Freshman Jordan Frazier connected on a 3-pointer late in the second half to cap an 8-0 Wofford run and trim the Terriers’ deficit to just three points. Chattanooga head coach Wes Moore had seen his team’s double-digit advantage evaporate in a matter of moments.
Then he made the call.
“When you’re in a game that’s single digits going down the stretch, you’ve got to go with the people you trust; that are going to take care of the ball, box out, match up and not give up open looks,” Moore said. “We ended up going back to the veterans.”
Those veterans delivered, too.
Sparked by a Kayla Christopher 3-pointer, the Lady Mocs (5-1, 1-0 SoCon) outscored Wofford 15-3 in the final 5:34 and rolled to a 68-54 win.
“I think that’s one thing that — as veterans — works to our advantage,” Christopher said. “Towards the end of games we can close it out. We feel confident towards the end of games.”
Junior Ashlen Dewart scored six of her season-high 29 points in final 2:31. Dewart, making her third straight start in place of injured senior Faith Dupree, didn’t just finish strong, though. She also started fast, scoring 12 of Chattanooga’s first 17 points.
The 6-3 forward pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds in between to notch her first double-double of the season.
“We knew we had an advantage on the inside,” Dewart said. “Once you create some baskets on the inside it opens up the shooters and everything else. Coach Moore saw that and acted on it. The guards did a really good job feeding me the ball and working to get me the ball.”
Senior Kylie Lambert was also a big part of the Lady Mocs’ late second-half surge, but it didn’t show up on the stat sheet. At least not in her team’s portion. You’d have to look at Wofford’s numbers to really see the 5-9 guard’s contribution.
Wofford senior Rachel Brittenham scorched Chattanooga in the first half with 15 points on 6 of 7 seven shooting, including three 3-pointers. Moore stuck Lambert on Brittenham for the final 20 minutes, and the 5-9 sharpshooter got shut down.
“Kylie did a great job of defense on her in the second half,” Christopher said. “That was a big key for us being able to pull it out in the second half.”
Brittenham shot just 1 of 4 in the second half, and committed a game-high five turnovers.
Christopher finished with 16 points, while junior Taylor Hall chipped in five points and eight rebounds.
Chattanooga outrebounded Wofford 50-38, an held a 20-6 advantage in second-chance points.
“We had too many turnovers and missed too many free throws, but I’m proud of the effort we gave on the boards,” Moore said. “Offensively I thought we crashed really hard. That was probably the biggest factor in the game.”
The Lady Mocs continue conference play on Saturday when they host Furman (5 p.m.) as part of a doubleheader. Chattanooga's men play host to Davidson in the night cap.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.