Freshman Anna Walker is settling into her role off the bench with the Chattanooga women’s basketball team. Thursday night she scored a career-high 16 points and led UTC to a 74-45 Southern Conference win over Western Carolina at The McKenzie Arena.
Walker was 4-of-5 from the 3-point line making three in the final quarter, her last a hard bank high off the glass. Dena Jarrells joined her in double figures with 13 points.
The Mocs led wire-to-wire and went into half with its first double-digit lead of the game 36-26. In the fourth, UTC put together its longest scoring run, 9-0, to lead 66-41 and Walker’s final trey gave UTC its largest lead of the game at 29 points.
The Mocs had a very balanced offensive effort with Eboni Williams and Sigrun Olafsdottir each scoring nine while Bria Dial and Abbey Cornelius chipped in seven apiece. Williams had a game-high seven rebounds and Olafsdottir, Dial and Jarrells each had four assists.
Williams got the scoring off to a quick start with a layup off a screen just 10 seconds into play. Jarrells scored eight of her points in the opening frame connecting on a pair of 3-pointers and Williams added five points and four boards. However, she and Cornelius got into early foul trouble and sat out the second half.
The Catamounts started off the second quarter behind four quick points from the game-leading scorer Nadia Marshall to make it a two-point game at 22-20 less than a minute into play. Walker answered with five points to push the lead 27-20.
Western Carolina’s Tembre Moates hit a jumper on the Cats next possession then grabbed a defensive rebound leading to a jumper from Lauren LaPlant to get WCU as close as 27-24 midway through the second.
Chattanooga responded with a 9-2 run to stretch the lead to 10 points at the half.
“I was really pleased with the way we specifically handled those last four minutes of the first half,” Chattanooga head coach Katie Burrows said. “I felt like we got stagnant when we subbed there initially. We weren’t cutting hard and we weren’t really moving the ball, but we finished the second quarter really strong doing that.”
“I was really pleased with that bunch for coming back and doing that, setting the tone for the third quarter.”
The Mocs’ third quarter saw a balanced scoring effort with six different players getting points. Williams and Cornelius made their return to the floor and each dropped in four points of UTC’s 19 points in the frame.
The fourth quarter became the Anna Walker Show with the Cleveland, Tenn., freshman scoring 11 of her 16 point in the frame. She drained three 3-pointers in the period and connected on both free throws.
UTC only allowed the Catamounts six points in the final quarter. Nadia Marshall led all scorers with 21 points and was the only Western Carolina player in double figures. Kyla Allison and Tembre Moates had eight points each and the pair led WCU with a team-best six rebounds apiece.
The Mocs found their stroke from the 3-point line making 11-of-22 on the night, second most this season and the most against a Southern Conference opponent since they went 11-of-22 against Samford three years ago.
UTC started out making 6-of-15 from the field in the first quarter then upped its game shooting 54.2 percent in the second, 61.5% (8-13) in the third and 54.5% in the fourth. The Mocs shot 52 percent for the night making 26-of-50 and were 11-of-12 from the free throw line.
The Catamounts edged UTC 30-28 in the paint and both scored eight points off turnovers with WCU suffering 14 miscues to the Mocs’ 19. Walker and Jarrells combined for 29 of UTC’s 38 bench points while the Cats had just five.
On the boards, UTC outrebounded Western Carolina 38-26 and the Cats scored 10 points off eight offensive rebounds.
After back-to-back road trips, the Mocs returned to the Roundhouse as did the fans, the band and spirit squads for the first time this year. Despite the limited capacity of 10 percent, the Mocs enjoyed the atmosphere of being home.
UTC and Western Carolina will tip it up again Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the second game of a double header with the men’s team who will host The Citadel at Noon. The arena will be cleared out between games in order to sanitize the building for the second game.