The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga faced more than a little drama in its women's basketball exhibition game against Lee University on Monday night at McKenzie Arena. It wasn't a glorious debut for new coach Jim Foster, but he got to see how his team reacted under pressure.
Foster said he learned in the Lady Mocs' 46-44 win that "they know they can play harder, because they did in the last five minutes."
Down for most of the second half, the defending Southern Conference regular-season and tournament champions had to rally late. Lee led 42-35 with 5:42 to play, but UTC closed the game on an 11-2 run.
"I guess you could say we kind of survived this one," said UTC senior Taylor Hall, who led UTC with 12 points. "We're definitely disappointed in the way we performed and shot the ball -- pretty much everything. We didn't do much like we have worked on and have been doing in practice."
One reason for that may have been a lack of "continuity" and "timing," Foster said, due to injuries to preseason SoCon player of the year forward Ashlen Dewart (foot), senior guard Alex Black (foot) and senior forward Faith Dupree (back). UTC has a veteran rotation, but key parts of the group haven't spent much time on the court together in recent weeks.
Meghan Downs hit a 15-foot baseline jump shot to put the Lady Mocs in front 45-44 with 2:23 to play, and KaVonne Towns hit one of two free throws with 29.2 seconds left to make it 46-44.
The Flames had one last chance and Hollie German was just off with her final 3-point attempt. Lee's Madison Lee grabbed the offensive rebound but Downes poked the ball away and dived on it, calling timeout as she got possession with 0.5 second left, sealing the win.
"We definitely see what we need to get better at," said Downes, who scored nine points.
Shooting, for starters. UTC finished 18-of-51 from the field, 3-of-13 on 3-pointers and just 7-of-20 from the free-throw line.
"Free throws are something we should control, no matter what else is going on in the game," said Hall, who hit all four of her attempts.
Jenna Adams led Lee with 17 points and 11 rebounds, hitting three 3-pointers. When UTC led 33-31, Adams scored seven straight to put Lee ahead by five. German added 13 points on 5-for-26 shooting.
UTC opens its season at the Roundhouse on Friday against Alabama. The game will follow the UTC men's team's 5:30 p.m. opener against Covenant College.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.