The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team found itself at an uncomfortable pace in the first half of its Southern Conference opener Saturday at UNC Greensboro. But in the second half, the Mocs kept scoring and UNCG didn't.
The Mocs blew the game open with a 52-point second half and cruised to an 86-53 win. They shot 60 percent in the second half and won every statistical aspect of the game in improving to 7-3 overall. They'll stay in North Carolina and play at Elon on Monday at 7 p.m.
Taylor Hall led UTC with 18 points and had 10 rebounds for her fifth consecutive double-double. Freshman Aryanna Gilbert had 13 points in her second straight start, while classmate Chelsey Shumpert added 12.
"I was nervous at first, but I've decided to take full advantage of the opportunity to start," Gilbert said. "I've learned a lot from some of the older players like Taylor and Ashlen [Dewart]."
The athletic Lady Spartans (4-5, 0-1) did a good job of speeding up the pace of the game early. They led 17-16 on a layup by Janae' Stevenson with 9:32 left in the half, but UTC started taking care of the basketball and benefited from some easy looks, taking a 34-26 lead into the break.
After a jumper by Hall early in the second half, the lead was 41-30. It never dipped below double digits the rest of the way. UTC coach Jim Foster was pleased with his team's play, namely on the defensive end.
"We were in front of them," he said on the postgame radio show. "From the film, they have had success when they have been able to beat people off the dribble. We did a good job of keeping them in front of us; we switched some things and then played some smart, defensive basketball. We did a good job of keeping a very athletic team off the glass in the second half and limited their opportunities."
Freshman Whitney Hartlage finished with nine points. Dewart had six points and a team-leading four assists despite some first-half foul trouble.
UTC had 22 assists on 34 made baskets.
"I thought we moved the ball well," Foster said. "We didn't turn the ball over.
"The ball moved and hopped, so when the ball moves like that, we're pretty good."
Stevenson led the Lady Spartans with 14 points but had her double-double streak end at three, finishing with only six rebounds.