After leading Vanderbilt for more than three quarters, the Chattanooga Mocs fell 80-78 to the Commodores Sunday afternoon at the McKenzie Arena. UTC drops to 1-3 overall and the Vandy improves to 2-1.
“We should have beat that team,” Chattanooga head coach Katie Burrows said. “They have great talent, but we were better than that team. Today we weren’t. That’s the frustrating part. I hope this stings as much for my girls as it does for me. I truly believe we should have won that ball game.”
After chipping away at the Mocs’ lead, Vanderbilt put together a 10-0 run in the first half of the fourth quarter to take a 68-62 lead with 6:25 remaining. UTC got as close as two points a couple of times over the next two-and-a-half minutes before Vanderbilt pushed its lead to 79-70 with eight unanswered points, it’s largest of the game, with just 36 seconds remaining.
In the final 33 seconds, the Mocs pulled to within two points again behind a pair of 3-pointers from Dena Jarrells.
After UTC cut the lead to 79-73 on Jarrells shot, Vanderbilt called timeout to advance the ball. Amaria Pugh committed the foul to stop the clock and Chelsie Hall missed the first of her two free throws to put the Commodores up 80-73.
UTC advanced the ball and Eboni Williams hit a quick layup, cutting it to 80-75. Vanderbilt’s Brinae Alexander’s layup rolled over the basket and into Pugh’s hands. On the other end, Bria Dial missed a 3-point attempt, but Jarrells was there to scoop it up and hit her third long ranger with two seconds to play. Vanderbilt was able to run out the clock and held on for the win.
“They did a great job executing in that last minute,” Burrows said of her team’s effort. “I was drawing stuff up and they were going out there and taking care of business.”
Junior Abbey Cornelius led the Mocs with the teams’ first double-double of the year with 13 points and career-highs 18 rebounds while matching her career-best for blocked shots with five. She pulled down eight boards in the first quarter alone. That was the most rebounds for a Chattanooga player since Jasmine Joyner had 20 at Furman on January 13, 2016.
Dena Jarrells had a team-best 15 points, making 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. She dished out eight assists in the contest, a career-high for the West Virginia native. Current graduate assistant Molly Melton was the last to record that number, getting eight against Georgetown on November 25, 2017 at the Challenge in Music City.
Six players scored in double figures for Chattanooga for the first time since the Mocs beat Alabama at the Roundhouse in 2013.
Eboni Williams, Amaria Pugh and freshman Anna Walker each added 11 points and Bria Dial chipped in 10. Williams had eight rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocked shots. Pugh was 4-of-8 with a pair of 3-pointers and Walker, making 3-of-4 from the field, connected on all four free throws for a career-high in just her fourth game.
Koi Love led all scorers with 21 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for a double-double before fouling out of the contest. Hall had 19 points, making 7-of-12 while Alexander scored 14 and Enna Pehadzic added 11.
UTC shot 42.4 percent for the game and was 10-of-24 from long range. At the charity stripe, UTC was 12-of-20 and committed 18 turnovers that resulted in 15 points for the Commodores.
Vandy outscored UTC 42-30 in the paint and 15-11 on second chance points with 14 offensive boards. VU edged the Mocs on rebounds 43-41 and had 19 turnovers resulting in 12 points for UTC.
The Mocs’ bench, led by Jarrells and Walker, outscored Vanderbilt 33-6.
“Free throws and turnovers,” Burrows said. “The numbers don’t lie. If we don’t take care of this, we’re not going to win ball games.”
Chattanooga doesn’t have much time to rest, however. UTC is back on the road Tuesday for a weekday matchup at instate foe Austin Peay at 5:30 p.m.