Despite any perceived struggles for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team this season, one question that could never be asked has been about the Mocs' effort.
That was again the case Saturday, when UTC faced Furman in Greenville, South Carolina. Shots were missed by the Mocs — lots of them; 43 to be exact — but their effort never wavered. Eventually, a few shots were made and UTC got the result it was searching for, defeating the Paladins 51-44 in double overtime.
The Mocs shot just less than 30% from the field, going 18-for-61, but limited the Paladins to 28% shooting — with the lapse in offense leading first-year UTC coach Shawn Poppie to joke on the postgame radio broadcast that "we set the game back a little bit there."
Freshman forward Raven Thompson led UTC in scoring with 13 points, including a three-point play in the first minute of the second overtime that gave the Mocs (11-9, 4-3 Southern Conference) the lead for good. Addie Porter and Yazz Wazeerud-Din scored 11 each, with Porter, a 5-foot-4 sophomore, netting the first double-double of her Mocs career by adding a career-high 20 rebounds.
It's the first 20-rebound game for a player in the program since current UTC assistant Jasmine Joyner had that many against Furman on Jan. 9, 2016. Joyner also had 20 rebounds against the Paladins in the 2015 SoCon tournament.
Porter also had a game-high four steals while playing all 50 minutes, with Wazeerud-Din and sophomore guard Sigrun Olafsdottir playing 49 apiece. Olafsdottir had eight points and six rebounds, Abbey Cornelius had six points, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 41 minutes, and Thompson played 40 minutes.
There were seven ties during the game, although the Mocs were ahead for most of regulation. UTC pushed its lead to a game-high 11 points twice in the third quarter, the second time with a little more than two minutes remaining, but the Paladins (9-11, 1-4) hung around and went ahead late in the fourth before Wazeerud-Din hit a free throw with 35 seconds left to make it 38-all.
That's where the score stood going to overtime, and it was 42-42 after the first extra frame, with Furman's Grace van Rij making a layup at the 10-second mark for the last basket of the period. She finished with 12 points as the lone double-digit scorer for the Paladins, whose Sydney James had 21 rebounds.
"We fought and fought and fought and fought and fought. We tried to hang in there," Poppie said on the postgame radio broadcast. "It was hard to stay energetic when there was that many misses, but I thought we did a wonderful job of hanging in, and we got stops when we needed it. Defensively, I thought we did a really good job of making it hard on them. We executed a game plan which gave us a chance and, boy, they make life easier if we could hit a couple of shots."
The Mocs are home for their next three games, starting with UNC Greensboro (10-9, 3-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday at McKenzie Arena.
Compiled by Gene Henley. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.