The Chattanooga Mocs mounted a fourth-quarter comeback against Wofford to pull within nine, but fell 84-75 to the Terriers in Southern Conference women’s basketball action in the season-finale for both teams.
The Mocs finish the season at 7-22 overall and 5-9 against the league, tied with ETSU for fifth in the standings and will be the No. 6 seed in next week’s SoCon Championships in Asheville, N.C. The Terriers wrapped up the No. 2 seed earlier this week and close out the year at 16-12 overall and 11-3 against the league.
A slow start put Chattanooga behind early, trailing 24-13 at the end of the first. The second saw the Mocs shoot 56.3 percent but couldn’t break the Terriers’ hold and were down 48-35 at intermission.
It wouldn’t be until the fourth that the Mocs were able to pull within nine, outscoring Wofford 27-17 in the final frame.
“I’m so tired of being in these situations,” Mocs head coach Katie Burrows said. “I don’t know why our defense in the first half wasn’t reflective of what we looked like in the second half. I can’t understand what ignites them.
“I know they subbed in and had some younger kids in there, but even when they had their starters in there, we were doing a much better job in the third quarter and the fourth.”
The Terriers led by as much as 21 points in the fourth quarter and had an 84-64 lead on the Mocs with 2:41 to play. UTC closed out the period on an 11-0 run behind six straight free throws and a pair of shots.
After making all six free throw attempts to make it 84-70, Porter forced a turnover at midcourt and her layup got UTC to within 12 points and Dena Jarrells final 3-pointer gave the Mocs 75 points, its second most scored this season.
Chattanooga, led by 22 points from Dena Jarrells, shot 43.3 percent (26-60) for the game and was 11-of-31 from the 3-point line while making 12 of 13 from the charity stripe. Jarrells was 8-of-15 from the field with four 3-pointers and six rebounds.
“The last two games we’ve taken 31 3-pointers in each game,” Burrows said. “Today we hit 11 and they hit 13. When we weren’t hitting in the first half, we were settling for them instead of trying to get different looks.
“I was really proud of Marki [Amaria Pugh] in the way that she stepped up and knocked down those 3’s today. Destiny hit a couple and Dena hit some as well. Where was that early in the game?”
Pugh was 3-of-4 from deep and had 15 points and five rebounds and Destiny McClendon was 2-of-3 from the arc with eight points.
Porter scored 11 first-half points, and closed out the game with 15 points and six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Sigrun Olafsdottir just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds and had four dishes as well.
Karsen Murphy chipped in four points and five rebounds and had five blocked shots.
“I have been really proud of the way that she has stepped into that rolled and embraced us needing her to score a little bit, but most of all to defend,” Burrows said of her freshman transfer. “She’s not a banger defender, she’s more of a true forward. I’ve been proud of the way she has produced for us.”
Making her return to the court after missing six games due to injury was Abbey Cornelius. Playing limited minutes, she had two points on free throws, pulled down one board and had an assist.
“We were not allowed to push her,” Burrows said of Cornelius’ limited playing time. “We definitely needed her out there today to just kind of get a feel for it. We’ll see how she feels tomorrow.”
Wofford’s Lilly Hatton had a game-high 25 points, making 4-of -5 from range while Niyah Lutz posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jackie Carman was the third Terrier in double digits with 14 points and had four dishes. Reagan Rapert had a game-high seven assists and added seven points and four rebounds.
Wofford was 31-of-68 from the field and 13-of-24 (54.2%) from the 3-point line. The win was the first for the Terriers in Chattanooga in 26 tries against the Mocs.
Wofford scored 19 points off 16 Chattanooga miscues compared to 11 points for the Mocs on 11 Terrier turnovers. In the paint, Wofford led 32-24 while UTC had 14 points on seven offensive boards. Wofford converted 10 offensive rebounds into 11 points.
The Mocs’ bench, led by Pugh’s 15-point output, led the Terriers 25-16. Pugh came off the bench in favor of the Mocs’ senior Pare Pene who played in her final home game in a Chattanooga uniform.
“I hate that we couldn’t pull that out for her,” Burrows said. “What an amazing human being she is. What a great teammate she’s been. She’s going to be a great mentor for somebody someday.”
The Mocs will be the No. 6 seed in the SoCon Tournament next week in Asheville and will take on third-seeded Furman in the final game of the day, slated to tip off at 5:45 p.m. at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center.