Lethal runs varied for UTC women

Lethal runs varied for UTC women

February 10th, 2014 by Gene Henley in Sportscollege

UTC Mocs logo

The run is going to come. You just don't know when.

And that's one thing that has made the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team so good this season. The Mocs have the depth and the skill to defeat their opponents in a number of ways and with a number of players.

Going into tonight's Southern Conference home game against Western Carolina, the only UTC player who dresses out who hasn't scored in double figures in a game is freshman Whitney Hartlage. And she scored nine against UNC Greensboro in December.

Saturday afternoon against Appalachian State, the run came early, led by an unexpected source. The Mocs (20-3, 12-0) jumped to a 15-2 advantage, and it was Aryanna Gilbert -- the player the Lady Mountaineers wanted to take shots, as she is UTC's ninth-leading scorer at 4.3 points per game -- who had the hot hand. She made the Mocs' first four field goals on her way to a career high of 14 points on 7-for-7 shooting.

"That's when you have to shake your head and realize it's not going to be your night," Appalachian State coach Darcie Vincent said Saturday after UTC's 69-41 win. It had taken the Mocs an overtime period to defeat her team 73-68 on Jan. 10.

Against Georgia Southern, UTC broke open what had been a one-point game with a 16-0 spurt in the second half. In what was expected to be a tough road test for the Mocs against Davidson, the visitors led 17-4 six minutes in. They had no major spurts against Samford, except for a five-point run here or four consecutive points there.

It's that depth and that ability that have made the Mocs the class of the conference, as they hold a three-game lead over second-place Davidson with six league games remaining.

UTC swept Davidson, so it would take four league losses for the Mocs to relinquish the top seed in the conference tournament.

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the Mocs is that there still is room for improvement. They had a season-high 22 turnovers against Appalachian State, although many of those came in garbage time. Against Georgia Southern they totaled only six assists, far below their league-leading 15 per game. So there's definitely room to work on those little errors or lapses in a game.

"We've struggled to put together 40 minutes throughout the season," UTC senior Taylor Hall said. "We are getting closer and closer to doing all the little things right and continue to take steps in the right direction."

Meanwhile, small errors can be masked by a 15-2 run. Or a 16-0 spurt. Or a 17-4 start to a game.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.