The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga snapped Samford’s six-game win streak with a 70-57 Southern Conference women’s basketball victory Saturday evening at The McKenzie Arena and knocked the Bulldogs out of first place in the SoCon standings.
Chattanooga improves to 8-6 overall and 3-2 against the conference while the Bulldogs even their record at 7-7 on the year and 4-1 in SoCon action.
Eboni Williams recorded her second straight double-double and fifth of the year with 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. She was joined in double figures by Abbey Cornelius who just missed a double-double with a team-best 16 points and eight boards and Bria Dial with 10 points.
“They came in this morning and prepared really well,” Chattanooga head coach Katie Burrows said. “When our team decides to be good, they’re pretty darn good. But that’s a decision they have to make every day they step in the gym.”
Chattanooga got off to a quick start, a turnaround from the first period Thursday. The two teams traded baskets over the first 1:29 to tie the game at five apiece. The Mocs then put up eight straight points from its top three scorers including back-to-back 3-pointers from Williams and Dial to make it a 13-5 game at the 5:49 mark.
The three combined to shoot 8-of-8 in the frame for a 10-of-14 (71.4%) team performance and the Mocs led 23-15 at the end of the period.
“Anytime you’re competing, if you can set the tone, you will have the upper hand,” Burrows said. “I don’t think we’re unequipped to be able to come from behind, I just don’t think we can do that consistently. Are we capable? Yes, we are, but why even go there when you can jump out to a good start.”
In the second quarter UTC pushed the lead to as much as 17 points on a 3-pointer from Brooke Hampel to make it 40-23 with 1:39 to play in the half. The Mocs defense responded holding Samford to just nine points in the second and third periods with a combined 7-of-31 (22.6%) shooting by the Bulldogs. Coupled with UTC’s 16-of-36 in the same time frame, UTC carried a 59-33 lead into the final quarter.
Samford’s Andrea Cournoyer, held to just nine points through the first 30 minutes – none in the third quarter, responded in the fourth with 10 points for a game-high 19 points. The Bulldogs shot 64.3 percent from the field for its best 10 minutes of the game.
Turnovers were few and far between for UTC on the night with a season-low tying 12 while the Mocs dished out 23 assists on 31 makes. Cornelius had a career-best six assists and Williams matched her season-high with four.
From the arc, UTC was 8-of-31 and for the first time since the 2013 NCAA Tournament against Nebraska, UTC had just one free throw attempt. On the other end, Samford made just 11-of-23 from the charity stripe after hitting all 10 on Thursday.
Cournoyer was the only Bulldog in double figures. Audra Leipold added seven and four players chipped in six points each. Makaila Woolard, with six points, pulled down a team-best eight boards. Samford had nine assists on 21-of-55 shooting for the game.
Chattanooga outrebounded Samford 41-38 and edged the Bulldogs 30-24 in the paint. Both teams had eight steals with Williams leading everyone with three.
The Mocs will hit the road this week to start a four-game stretch with two at Mercer followed by a pair at Wofford the following week.