ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ran into trouble at the start of each half Sunday against Appalachian State.
The Lady Mocs overcame the first, but not the second in the semifinals of the Southern Conference women's basketball tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Appalachian State imposed its will at every opportunity and got a huge game from forward Maryah Sydnor in the second-seeded Mountaineers' 77-52 win over the third-seeded Lady Mocs.
It was a much different game from UTC's 80-71 win over ASU seven days before at McKenzie Arena. UTC shot 48.1 percent from the field last Monday, but only 28.6 percent Sunday. UTC never led and didn't make a field goal in the final seven minutes.
"We got dominated," Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore said, "there's no other way to put it."
Sydnor, the media's pick for SoCon freshman of the year, had 15 points at the half Sunday and finished with a career-high 30, plus 10 rebounds. She hit 13 of 18 shots and took advantage of UTC's defensive efforts to slow down the media's pick for player of the year, Anna Freeman, who scored 12.
"[Sydnor's used to being double-teamed], so she enjoyed the fact that they wanted to lock down on somebody else," ASU coach Darcie Vincent said.
Taylor Hall led UTC with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Kylie Lambert added 13 points. The Lady Mocs hit 6 3s in the first half to rally from a big hole, but the shots didn't fall in the second. UTC was 3-of-15 from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes.
ASU, meanwhile, hit 31 of 61 shots in the game.
The Lady Mocs finished the season with a record of 22-9, and without a SoCon regular season or tournament title for the second year in a row.
"We've got to regroup and reanalyze where we're at as a program," Moore said.
App State is a high-energy, high-aggression team that is hard to beat after a week of rest, Moore said. The Lady Mocs walked off the court after beating Furman on Saturday at around 10:45 p.m., only to have to face the Mountaineers at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon.
"They're tough to play," Hall said. "It's intense all the way whether they're pressing or in the half court."
Both the press and the half-court defense were effective. App State finished with a 20-7 advantage in points off turnovers and a 42-14 advantage in points in the paint.
Appalachian State (25-5) will face Samford in the championship game today at 5 p.m., in a rematch of last year's title game.
UTC hit just one of its first 11 shots and found itself in trouble in the opening minutes. The Mountaineers' press forced turnovers that led to easy baskets and the lead was quickly in double digits.
The Lady Mocs trailed 26-15 with 7:31 left in the half when Lambert and Hall began burying 3s. Soon, UTC trailed 28-27 and Whitney Hood tied the game with a free throw at the 3:14 mark. The Lady Mocs had several chances to take the lead but couldn't, and Appalachian State closed the half on a 5-0 run for a 33-28 advantage.
Freeman hit a 3 to start the second half and soon after the Mountaineers had the lead in double digits again -- where it remained.
The Lady Mocs' leading scorer the past two seasons, Hood finished with two points and seven rebounds in her final game at UTC. Fellow senior Tenisha Townsend scored nine.
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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