CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Every time Wes Moore has reached the Southern Conference tournament finals, his Lady Mocs have won the championship.
They're there again -- one step away from dancing in the NCAA tournament.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga beat Georgia Southern 60-49 in the first semifinal game of the day.
But a victory on Monday in Time Warner Arena at 5 p.m. is not guaranteed even though UTC is 12-0 all-time in the finals.
Top-seeded UTC will face No. 2 seed Samford which beat Appalachian State 66-53.
"I thought that in the first half we did some real good things," Moore said. "They were doubling Shanara (Hollinquest), which is something a lot of people do, and we had several people step up and knock down some 3s."
Hollinquest, the SoCon player of the year, led all players with 17 points and eight rebounds. She shot 7-of-11 from the floor after going the first 12 minutes without a point because GSU began the game by defending her with two people when she had the ball in close.
"I had to calm down, relax, chin the ball and look for the open person," Hollinquest said. "When they went one-on-one, it was attack time."
Freshman Michelle Davis scored 14 points on the strength of four 3-pointers. Senior Jenaya Wade-Fray had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kayla Christopher scored 10 points for UTC (23-8).
J'Lisia Ogburn led GSU with 13 points and Meredyth Frye had 11 in the Eagles' last game of the season.
Davis played a season-high 31 minutes because senior Megan Rollins suffered a serious hand injury 90 seconds into the game.
Rollins broke her left index finger at the joint where it connects to the hand. Rollins, who entered the tournament averaging 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game underwent surgery in Charlotte on Sunday afternoon.
Contributed Photo by Todd Drexler - Shanara Hollinquest takes a shot during a game against Georgia Southern in the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament in Charleston, S. C., on Sunday.
"We were hoping it was just dislocated," Moore said. "We've been through a lot of injuries and that's a tough one. She's been a leader for our young kids."
Rollins missed a game that the Lady Mocs controlled for a majority of the minutes.
UTC had a 24-5 run to take a 12-point lead in the first half and owned a 34-23 advantage at halftime.
The Lady Mocs inched out to a 14-point lead early in the second half before GSU went on an 11-1 run to pull within four. The Eagles trailed 44-40 with 9:41 to go but couldn't get any closer as UTC led by at least 10 points over the final six minutes.
The Lady Mocs split their season series with Samford (22-9) with each team winning at home. Samford won 74-52 on Nov. 30 and UTC won 92-62 in the last game of the regular season.
"(Mike) Morris does as good of a job as anybody in the league," Moore said. "Playing them is like going to a clinic or watching an instructional video."
Moore and the Lady Mocs watched a good portion of Samford's victory in preparation for the most important game of the season. Davis said preparation will be the same even though the pressure is more intense than ever.
"I assume we'll do the same thing we've been doing," the freshman said. "We haven't done anything wrong yet."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...