ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team took the floor late Saturday night like a team that had been waiting far too long to play.
In the Lady Mocs' quarterfinal game against Furman in the Southern Conference tournament, tipoff wasn't until 9 p.m. at Kimmel Arena.
Third-seeded UTC struggled through the opening half before Taylor Hall led a rejuvenated, high-energy effort in the second that paced a 60-38 win over the sixth-seeded Paladins.
Hall, the reigning SoCon player of the week, was a game-changer in the second half. She hit her first four 3-pointers in the period after a scoreless first 20 minutes, finishing with 16 points.
"We finally got it going in the second half and got some momentum and kept it going," Hall said.
Whitney Hood kept UTC going in the first half with 10 points. The senior, who made the coaches' and media's All-SoCon squads for the second year in a row, finished with 14 and eight rebounds.
"We were just sitting around talking about being ready to play," Hood said of UTC's long wait, adding that there was a lot of "eating going on" during the day.
UTC coach Wes Moore said he feels the team with a tournament win under its belt -- Furman beat UNC Greensboro on Friday -- often has an advantage in the quarters. Might that be exacerbated by the long wait to play Saturday?
"Whatever that word is, yes, I agree," he said.
The Lady Mocs (22-8) outscored Furman 42-16 in the second half. With less than three minutes remaining Hall had 16 second-half points to Furman's 14.
UTC will face No. 2 Appalachian State in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. today at the U.S. Cellular Center. The Mountaineers routed Western Carolina 61-43 to reach the semis.
Furman, which got 10 points from Kaitlin Murphy and Teshia Griswold, finished its season at 15-16.
UTC improved to 43-15 all-time in the SoCon tournament, 28-5 in 14 seasons under Moore. Furman's tournament record fell to 22-26.
Hood scored the game's first six points and 10 of UTC's first 14, and the Lady Mocs led 14-8, but the Paladins then went on a 14-0 run to take a 22-14 lead.
A Faith Dupree three-point play cut the gap to 22-17 at halftime. Dupree's late field goal was just one of six made in the half by the Lady Mocs, who shot 6-of-23, including 0-for-10 from 3-point range.
The Paladins were a little better at 9-of-28.
Hall opened the second half with a 3 and scored eight quick points to give UTC a 25-22 lead. The game was neck-and-neck for a while and tied at 30 with 14:45 remaining. Led by Hall, UTC took control after that and soon had a double-digit advantage.
A Tenisha Townsend floater as the shot clock expired made it 52-36 with a little more than two minutes remaining, sealing the win.
John Frierson is in his fifth year at the Times Free Press and fifth year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...
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