It might take a day or two for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster to realize how well his team played against Auburn on Sunday afternoon, but once he does, it's going to be hard to find out much they did wrong.
The Lady Mocs led from wire-to-wire, jumping out to a 14-0 lead. They withstood an early rally after that initial run and eventually blew out a young Tiger team 80-52 Sunday in front of 2,069 fans at McKenzie Arena. The win is the team's 30th straight at home -- a streak that will last into 2014, as the team is on the road for the next six weeks.
"I thought we played a good game," Foster said. "I don't know for sure until I watch the field, because sometimes what you thought you saw wasn't what you thought it was. Therefore, it's unfair to jump out with opinions, but we took care of the ball and had good effort."
UTC (4-1) scored 29 points off 22 turnovers, dished out 18 assists and shot 51 percent from the field. The team had good ball movement against the full-court pressure applied by the Tigers, and were able to score off 3-point attempts and drives to the basket. Meghan Downes led the team with 17 points, while Alex Black and Ashlen Dewart had 13 apiece, as the Lady Mocs were able to somewhat avenge a loss against the Tigers down in Auburn last season -- one in which the hosts had a 17-0 run.
This year, it was UTC with the big early run.
"I think it put ease in our heads," Dewart said of the start. "We became more comfortable because we knew they were a good team, but we played consistent throughout the whole game."
Auburn (3-2) called two timeouts in the first eight minutes trying to settle down. The latter one worked, as the Lady Tigers trimmed the lead to 23-20 with 5:46 to go in the half, but UTC would respond with a 12-4 spurt to lead by 11 at the break.
The strong play continued and got even better in the second half. Thirteen players played for the Lady Mocs, with 11 scoring. They shot 55 percent from the field, 56 percent from 3-point range and had only two turnovers in the final 20 minutes of play.
Taylor Hall, whom Foster calls his "point forward," flirted with a triple-double with eight points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Ka'Vonne Towns had nine points.
The team leaves for Honolulu on Tuesday morning for three games at the University of Hawaii, then has five away games -- including two in conference play -- before returning home for a Jan. 4 game against Georgia Southern.
"We have some positive momentum going into Hawaii," Downes said. "Everything went right today that we work on in practice. You want those games, but something usually goes wrong.
"These next games together will give us more of an opportunity to play as a team."
Auburn was led by 14 points and eight rebounds by Tra'Cee Tanner, while Kiani Parker had 10.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.