Jim Foster's Mocs on a roll despite tough schedule

Jim Foster's Mocs on a roll despite tough schedule

December 7th, 2017 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

UTC's Lakelyn Bouldin (33) takes a long shot during the Mocs' 87-82 overtime win against UT-Martin last Saturday at McKenzie Arena.

Photo by Bryant Hawkins

Jim Foster and his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team have been challenged in a variety of ways during their six-game winning streak.

The Mocs have won on the road (at Indiana). They've defeated a pair of Power Five conference programs (Auburn and Northwestern) and a Big East program (Georgetown) at a neutral site. They've defended their home court with wins against Presbyterian and UT-Martin.

They've won in convincing fashion. They've won narrowly. They've won by rallying.

For their past six games, they've won.

"This has really been good for us," UTC senior Keiana Gilbert said recently. "We've been able to go against different types and levels of competition, and that'll really help this team as the season goes on."

The experience gained the past few weeks proved beneficial in last Saturday's overtime win over the Skyhawks. The Mocs were down five late but came back behind Gilbert, who scored five of her 21 points in the final 1:35 to force overtime. In the extra period, the Mocs rode the hot hand of Lakelyn Bouldin — she scored nine of her 23 in overtime — and forced five UT-Martin turnovers while committing none on the way to an 87-82 win.

Against Auburn, UTC led 16-0. Northwestern fell behind 22-7 after a quarter. Georgetown was held to 30 percent shooting. Indiana fell victim to a third quarter in which the Mocs shots 63 percent, and UTC was able to hold on in that game.

Foster has continuously spoke about arranging a schedule "where everybody we play can beat you," and after an 0-3 start this season — a lopsided loss at Green Bay, a home defeat at the hands of Central Florida despite trailing for only 4 minutes and 45 seconds of game clock and a loss to Stetson in which UTC was down by 26 in the first half before trimming the final deficit to 11 — the Mocs seem to have found their stride.

They'll try to run their streak to seven when Virginia Tech visits McKenzie Arena on Sunday for a 3:30 p.m. tipoff.

"If you play a schedule where you just play obscure saints and body of water schools, you're not helping anything," Foster said. "This is the time of year where I find out what new universities have been created when I look at scores, because I see schools I've never heard of before.

"I'd rather play name recognition, and I'd rather people started to understand that Chattanooga is recognized, and you don't do that by not playing people."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.