Alicia Payne might have understated it Monday evening when she said the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team played "good" defense in the second half against Elon.
It was a little better than that.
The Mocs held Elon without a field goal in the final 12:35 and outscored the Lady Phoenix 29-3 in that span, claiming a 66-43 Southern Conference road victory. Ashlen Dewart tied her UTC career high of 29 points and added 10 rebounds, while fellow senior Taylor Hall had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Payne finished with eight points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals, helping a defensive effort that limited Elon to three free throws in that long stretch. The Lady Phoenix missed their final 13 shots from the field and turned the ball over eight times in that 12:35. They last led 42-41 with 9:05 remaining after a Jenifer Rhodes free throw, but a Payne three-point play gave UTC (8-3, 2-0) the lead for good.
"We played good defense in the second half," Payne said afterward. "Our defense sparks our offense; when we get stops, it helps our offense get better.
"We have a lot of scorers on the team -- Ashlen, Tat, Ka'Vonne, Taylor -- and it's easy for me to find them. When they score, it leaves others open."
UTC coach Jim Foster was pleased with the overall defensive effort. Elon's Kelsey Harris hit all seven of her first-half shots and had 14 points but was limited to one in the second half and missed all four of her shots. Her first-half performance led to a 30-all tie at the break.
UTC outscored Elon 36-13 in the second half. The Mocs shot 48 percent (15-for-31) in those final 20 minutes.
"Our defense had to be good because our offense was out of our mind for a while," Foster said. "We were taking quick shots and we're not a good team when we take quick shots; we negate some of the attributes that we have when we take good shots. We have good offensive rebounders, but when we take quick shots, it comes as a surprise, and the ability for offensive rebounding disappears.
"Once we started to understand that, we started playing quality basketball."
Dewart made 13 of her 16 field-goal attempts and hit both of her 3-point tries. In her last three games, she has averaged 20 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
"Ashlen played at a good tempo," Foster said. "She made a couple of nice moves. I told her earlier this week that the only people who know how good her footwork is are in this gym."
Harris added eight rebounds to her team-leading 15 points for Elon (3-6, 1-1). Rhodes added 10 points.
The Mocs are done with conference play for the 2013 calendar year. They have two more road games -- Wednesday at Austin Peay and Saturday at East Tennessee State.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.