Ashlen Dewart had to sit out all of last season after transferring from Appalachian State to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. If the 6-foot-3 center had any rust on her game at the start of the season, it's clearly gone now.
One of the Southern Conference's top women's basketball players during her two seasons with the Mountaineers, Dewart has been dominant in the post during three of the Lady Mocs' past four games. Most recently, in UTC's 83-40 win over Furman last Saturday, Dewart had 21 points (9 of 13 from the field) and seven rebounds in 24 minutes.
"I'm so happy she's on our side," said UTC senior wing Kylie Lambert, who had to play against Dewart for two seasons.
UTC (6-1, 2-0 SoCon) had planned on a post duo of Dewart and fellow 6-3 junior Faith Dupree. Those plans were scrapped when Dupree suffered a knee injury against East Tennessee State on Nov. 17. Dewart has started the four games since and averaged 18.7 points a game.
Dewart said she's enjoying the balance of UTC's offense, which is averaging 75.9 points a game -- second only to Appalachian State's 76.6.
"I think it makes us really formidable because if the post game's going good, then the guards will open up and knock down shots," she said. "I love the way we're playing right now."
An All-SoCon player during her sophomore season at ASU, Dewart led the Mountaineers in scoring in both her seasons in Boone. Her defense, in the words of UTC coach Wes Moore, is a work in progress.
"She does a pretty good job of helping on the baseline," he said. "She can get down there pretty good and be a presence. She's a lot better when we can keep her fresh and rotate her."
One of Dewart's strengths offensively is her ability to use the glass from inside 8 feet. She also has what might be one of the last hook shots.
"I've been trying to hit the glass a lot more, especially with my hook shot," said Dewart, the younger sister of former Lady Mocs wing Bailey Dewart. "It's like an extra hand around the basket. You can go up stronger with it when you use the glass and it helps your shots fall."
UTC will need her shots to fall Saturday when it plays at Alabama. The Lady Mocs will be trying to go 2-0 against Southeast Conference teams after beating Tennessee to open the season.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.