Halfway through the 2013-14 season, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team has been killing opponents with their numbers. Not just the numbers on the scoreboard, but the ones from the reserves as well.
The Mocs average 69.7 points per game, the most in the Southern Conference. Yet their leading scorer, Taylor Hall (13.7 per game), is seventh in the conference. UTC has only two players among the top 30 in scoring leaders -- Ashlen Dewart is 15th at 10.7 -- in large part due to the team's depth. UTC averages 27.7 points per game off the bench, and 12 of the 14 players have scored in double digits at least once.
The Mocs (12-3, 4-0) hit the road again -- where they've played eight of their last 10 games -- this afternoon, visiting Western Carolina (7-7, 1-2) for a 2 p.m. tipoff.
"We have some bigs that can shoot the 3 and some guards that can get to the basket, which opens up the floor for us," UTC coach Jim Foster said. "Any time you can get layups, those are great percentage shots, and we're able to get those more because we're not flooding the low-post area with post players. We can get them there, though."
The versatility on offense should come in handy against a Lady Catamounts team that is second in the conference in field-goal-percentage defense (.393) and in 3-point defense (.293). UTC has the ability to come at opponents in waves, with the second string just as capable of going on a run as the starters.
"Coach really talks to us about how versatile our bench is. We always have a new energy and somebody always has a different weapon," junior Ka'Vonne Towns said. "I think I bring energy, intensity on defense and aggression when I'm out there. We have the ability to give teams a lot of headaches because there are a lot of things we can do. I don't think our posts can be stopped, but we also have shooters and others who can make plays."
Dewart -- the team's second-leading shooter from 3-point range at 41.4 percent -- and Faith Dupree, the team's third-leading scorer combine to average 18 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. They've had 10 double-digit games between them, but with the wealth of guards and athletes on the team, no one position or player has been deserving of more attention than the others. That's been an adjustment for some players, such as freshman Chelsey Shumpert, who averaged 25.3 and 23.4 points per game her final two years of high school yet now splits time with sophomore Alicia Payne at the point guard position.
"We have depth at every position and have the ability to sub in five and sub out five," Shumpert said. "If somebody's in foul trouble, we can exchange somebody there, which is going to be good for this season. It's been different for me because I can't make the mistakes I used to make, but I'm getting there. Coach just tells me to take care of the ball and make sure everybody is where they're supposed to be. I don't have as much of a scoring role."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.
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