UTC women rout Mercer, move into first place

Queen Alford scored huge for the Mocs in a conference game against Samford at McKenzie Arena Wednesday night.

UTC 67, Mercer 45

Mercer (20-7, 10-2 SoCon)Thompson 2-3 0-0 4, Selph 3-6 2-2 8, Means 1-4 0-0 2, Rosendal 2-6 0-0 6, Lawrence 4-16 0-0 8, Broadway 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 2-5 4-4 8, Potts 0-1 0-0 0, Calloway 4-13 0-0 9. Totals 18-54 6-6 45.UTC (20-7, 11-2)Joyner 10-15 0-1 20, Payne 0-0 0-0 0, Alford 9-14 2-3 24, K. Gilbert 7-15 2-3 18, A. Gilbert 1-5 1-2 3, Vanlandingham 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 1-3 0-0 2, Burks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-52 5-9 67.Halftime—UTC, 40-17. 3-point goals—Mercer 3-8 (Rosendal 2-3, Calloway 1-5); UTC 6-10 (Alford 4-5, K. Gilbert 2-3, Joyner 0-1, A. Gilbert 0-1). Rebounds—Mercer 26 (Lawrence 6); UTC 37 (Joyner 16). Assists—Mercer 7 (Means 2, Calloway 2); UTC 37 (Joyner 16). Turnovers—Mercer 7 (Rosendal 2); UTC 11 (Joyner 2, Alford 2, A. Gilbert 2). Blocks—Mercer 3 (Rosendal, Lawrence, Calloway); UTC none. Steals—Mercer 4 (Lawrence 2); UTC 3 (Joyner, Alford, A. Gilbert). Total fouls—Mercer 13, UTC 7. Fouled out—none. A—2,933.

What's better than one lopsided payback win in one week?

Two of them.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team completed a sweep of Southern Conference opponents that had beaten them earlier in the season Saturday, jumping out to a 20-7 lead and winning 67-45 over the Mercer Bears in front of 2,933 fans at McKenzie Arena.

It was the Mocs' seventh consecutive victory and came less than 72 hours after they hammered Samford 53-30.

UTC (20-7, 11-2) moved into first place and even in the loss column with the Bears (20-7, 10-2) going into the last week of the regular season. The Mocs end with a home game next Saturday against East Tennessee State, while Mercer has home games against Wofford and Furman.

Mercer's women won the first meeting 67-44 on Jan. 23.

"We didn't like how we played down there," UTC coach Jim Foster said. "We don't think we were a very good team at that point in the year, and we made some adjustments in how we played and figured some things out. It takes a while to figure things out - some do it early, some it takes longer - but we have a pretty good idea as to who we are."

The Mocs changed how they attacked Mercer's zone defense early. The hosts shot 65 percent from the field in the first half - 9-for-10 in the second quarter - on their way to a 40-17 halftime advantage.

Queen Alford scored 24 points, her career high at UTC and one off her college career best. She also went over 1,000 points in her collegiate career that included two seasons at Jacksonville University.

Jasmine Joyner had 20 points, 16 rebounds and five assists. She and Alford became the first pair of UTC teammates to score at least 20 points in the same game since Whitney Hood and Taylor Hall did it against Appalachian State on Feb. 27, 2012.

Keiana Gilbert scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added three assists as the Mocs shot 54 percent from the field for the game, the first to top 50 percent against the Bears this season. Moses Johnson had a career-high five assists.

Alford, Joyner and Gilbert were 26-of-44 from the field and 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

"We shot well out there tonight," Joyner said. "We played well. Today was a feel-good win, a fun game, and we had energy from the start to the end."

Said Alford: "It was a competitive atmosphere."

The Mocs limited the Bears to 33 percent shooting from the floor. KeKe Calloway led Mercer with nine points.

Kahlia Lawrence, the second-leading scorer in the conference, finished 4-of-15 from the floor for eight points while primarily being guarded by Alicia "Red" Payne and Johnson.

"We made her work," Foster said. "I think Moses did a terrific job. Red was going to guard her but picked up a silly foul, then a legit one and had to come to the bench and sit. For her to come out in the second half and get none was a big deal.

"Moses used her length and moved her feet the way she needed to."

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