The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team had to fight off a big second-half rally by Western Carolina on Monday night at McKenzie Arena.
After leading by 16 points early in the half, the Lady Mocs held on for a 64-58 win to remain unbeaten in Southern Conference play. Alex Black went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the final six minutes and scored a career-high 15 points.
"I'm pretty confident at the line," the soft-spoken Black said without much confidence, "but I try not to think about it too much when I'm actually at the line."
The backup to starting point guard Tenisha Townsend, though her minutes are almost equal to Townsend's, Black was on the floor in the closing minutes of a tight game for the first time in the sophomore's career.
"I was kind of surprised," Black said, "but I guess because I was thinking about the game so much it didn't hit me until there were only like 40 seconds left."
The win was the fifth in a row for UTC (7-3, 3-0), while the Catamounts (4-7, 0-4) have lost five straight.
UTC appeared headed toward a fifth consecutive lopsided win with a 38-24 lead going into halftime. But the Lady Mocs shot 1-of-13 from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes and Western Carolina went 5-for-12.
"The difference was us going 1-for-13 from behind the arc," said UTC wing Kylie Lambert, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
The Lady Mocs were only 4-of-15 from 3-point range in the first half, so they shot 17.9 percent on 3s for the game. WCU was 9-of-21.
"We were on kind of a roll going into halftime, and in the second half we just couldn't make shots," UTC coach Wes Moore said. "When the other team's doubling your post, you've got to be able to knock down some shots."
Kaila'Shea Menendez had a game-high 26 points and UTC was double-teaming her at times, but it was Makensey Campbell who sparked the Catamounts' rally by hitting four second-half 3s.
Campbell's long 3 from well beyond the top of the key cut UTC's lead to 60-58 with 28.1 seconds left. Black was fouled moments later and calmly sank both shots. She hit two more 15 seconds later for 10 in a row.
"The good thing is [the close game] sends a message to our team that we have not arrived yet, that we still have a lot of things to work on, to get better at," Moore said.
Forward Faith Dupree had a tremendous first half but was unable to play in the second due to an upset stomach, Moore said. She scored 10 points in eight minutes of action in the first half, looking far more comfortable than she did in her first two appearances this season.
Taylor Hall had 10 points and nine rebounds and Whitney Hood finished with eight points and 13 rebounds for the Lady Mocs, who outrebounded the Catamounts 44-33.
UTC will play its final game of 2011 on Thursday at East Tennessee State.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.