The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team is one of the deepest in the Southern Conference. That was especially evident in Monday's win over Elon.
The Lady Mocs (15-6, 10-2 SoCon) posted a comfortable 80-65 win despite not having their top two scorers, forward Whitney Hood and guard Kayla Christopher. Hood came out after two minutes because of a sore knee and Christopher didn't dress out due to illness.
Faith Dupree took over for Hood and took over the game, scoring a career-high 24 points. Meghan Downes replaced Christopher in the starting lineup and scored 18.
"I think our entire bench has been playing pretty well," said coach Wes Moore, whose Lady Mocs play at Wofford (10-11, 3-9) tonight. "Obviously Meghan and Faith played extremely well the other night."
The Lady Mocs' bench has gotten a boost during the second half of the season due to the improved play of freshmen Ka'Vonne Towns and Ashley Southern. Their minutes and contributions are on the rise.
"I'm feeling more comfortable playing them and I probably need to keep trying to get them more minutes," Moore said.
Towns, a wing, scored a career-high 11 points against Elon. She also had four rebounds and three steals in 19 minutes.
"I feel like I'm hustling more and just making plays," said Towns, who said it took a little while to make the adjustment to college ball.
Southern, a forward, had a stretch in early January when she wasn't getting on the floor. But she's averaged 14 minutes of action and 4.7 points in UTC's past three games.
Towns suffered a torn ACL during her senior year at Berkmar (Ga.) High School and is still quite not all the way back, Moore said. However, she is showing flashes of the athleticism and all-around game that initially caught Moore's eye.
"I think Ka'Vonne the last several games has been a presence, especially on defense," he said. "She's making some plays that are leading to some offense. And when you're not shooting the ball as well as you would like, those plays are big."
The Lady Mocs have 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes again in league play. Moore said Hood and Christopher have practiced all week and will be ready to go tonight. Backup point guard Alex Black (foot) will likely play, as well.
UTC is 35-2 all-time against Wofford and the Lady Mocs are looking for their 30th consecutive win in the series.