UTC women beat Wofford, close regular season with 25th win

Staff file photo by Matt Hamilton / UTC's Jada Guinn (24) scored a game-high 27 points to help the Mocs close the regular season with a SoCon victory Saturday at Wofford.
Staff file photo by Matt Hamilton / UTC's Jada Guinn (24) scored a game-high 27 points to help the Mocs close the regular season with a SoCon victory Saturday at Wofford.

After a surprising home loss, an ugly road win and a rough start to the last test before tipping off posteason play, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team was finally more like itself.

That would be the version of the Mocs who put together one of the best regular seasons the program has enjoyed in years.

UTC shook off a slow first quarter to beat Wofford 84-67 on Saturday in Spartanburg, South Carolina, finishing the regular season 25-4 overall and 13-1 in Southern Conference play.

The Mocs posted their most regular-season victories since getting 25 in the 2014-15 campaign. They also finished 12-0 in true road games, the first undefeated run away from home since the 1999-2000 season.

UTC, the SoCon regular-season champion, will face eighth-seeded Western Carolina (6-23, 1-13) in the first round of the conference tournament at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Harrah's Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Mocs headed to Wofford (16-12, 8-6) coming off a 68-64 loss to UNC Greensboro in their home finale a week earlier and a 60-53 win at Furman on Thursday. They had trouble in the fourth quarter of both of those games, but it started earlier against the Terriers.

Head coach Shawn Poppie went with a smaller lineup for most of the game Saturday, with forward Raven Thompson playing only 26 minutes before fouling out and Karsen Murphy, the team's other starting forward, playing just 3:23. Thompson still finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.

Jada Guinn had a game-high 27 points, pacing five UTC scorers in double figures as Sigrun Olafsdottir had 12 points on four 3-pointers while Hannah Kohn (12 points) and Caia Elisaldez (10) also had productive days. Guinn had five rebounds and three steals, while Elisaldez added five assists to match teammate Addie Porter, who scored eight points.

The Mocs fell behind 20-4 five minutes into the game before catching fire. They caught Wofford by the 7:34 mark of the second quarter and took a 29-26 lead on a 3-pointer by Kohn seconds later. UTC went ahead for good on a layup by Guinn in the final minute of the period, then pulled away in the second half, making 13 of 23 shots and scoring 41 points.

"They threw a punch at us fast," Poppie said on the postgame radio broadcast. "I'm not sure we wanted to start this thing minus-16 in the first five minutes, for sure, but if there's a time to do it, I wouldn't mind it early in the game. It reminded me of last year here. They threw a punch at us hard. They were ready to play, we weren't. Some of that is totally on me. We had a scouting report that we liked, but we knew what Plan B would be, and they dominated Plan A fast and we adjusted.

"We went small the last 35 minutes of the game, which I thought was going to give them fits. I didn't think we'd have to go into it as fast as we did, but we had a fog, a glaze across our eyes early on. It took a lot of energy and effort, but I'm proud of a lot of dang kids in that locker room ... That's a 38-point swing in one basketball game, pretty darn impressive."

UTC completed a regular-season series sweep after topping the Terriers 57-51 on Feb. 1 at McKenzie Arena. Wofford won the SoCon regular-season title a year ago before losing to UTC in the league title game.

The hosts had four scorers in double figures Saturday: Rachael Rose (21), Indiya Clarke (15), Evangelia Paulk (13) and Annabelle Schultz (13).

Compiled by Gene Henley. Contact him at ghenley@timesfreepress.com.

Upcoming Events