Faith Dupree and Meghan Downes were called on to play major minutes Monday night at McKenzie Arena. They delivered in a game full of career highs.
With the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team's top two scorers -- Whitney Hood and Kayla Christopher -- out for all or part of the Southern Conference game against Elon, Durpee and Downes combined for 42 points in an 80-65 Lady Mocs win.
"It's nice knowing we've got those people over there if we need them," UTC coach Wes Moore said of Dupree, Downes and his other reserves.
The Lady Mocs (15-6, 10-2) outscored Elon (10-11, 6-6) 44-8 in bench points. And that doesn't include Downes' 18, because she started.
Hood left the game at the 17:55 mark with a sore right knee and did not return, forcing Dupree to play a career-high 27 minutes. Dupree scored a career-high 24 points on 9-for-18 shooting, plus 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
"Especially with people being sick, being injured, somebody has to step up, and it happened to be us tonight," said Dupree, whose previous high for minutes was 18 against Tennessee, when she scored her previous high of 17 points.
The hardest part of the game for her might have been going face-first into a television camera in the second half. She got up a little slowly and rested briefly on the bench before returning.
Christopher, meanwhile, spent the game in warmups on the bench due to illness, earning Downes her first career start. Downes hit a couple of early 3-pointers, made some hard drives to the basket and finished one point shy of her career high.
Downes played a career-high 33 minutes and said she didn't find out she was starting until the "last minute," after Monday's shootaround.
"If I had [time] to dwell on it, it would probably make me more nervous," she said.
Among the other career highs Monday, point guard Tenisha Townsend had nine assists and tied her high with three steals; Ka'Vonne Towns scored 11 points and tied her high with three steals; Dupree tied her best with four rebounds and set a high with two steals.
Lady Mocs forward Taylor Hall had 10 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
Downes and Dupree each had 12 points at halftime, and the Lady Mocs led 43-26. For one stretch in the second half UTC had four sophomores (Dupree, Downes, Black and Hall) and a freshman (Towns) on the court at the same time.
At the 7:39 mark, Towns was fouled on a drive and made one of the two free throws. Hall grabbed the offensive rebound, Dupree missed a jumper, Towns grabbed that offensive rebound and Dupree hit a 10-footer.
Dupree followed that a little later with a baseline 12-footer for a 65-47 UTC lead, prompting an Elon timeout with 6:21 remaining.
"I think it's good for the players to experience that success, and hopefully that's going to help their confidence," Moore said.
Ali Ford and Aiesha Harper each had 18 points and five assists to lead the Phoenix.
The Lady Mocs return to the road this weekend with a game at Wofford on Saturday and at Furman on Monday.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.