ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Jasmine Joyner said she and her University of Tennessee at Chattanooga teammates had "nerves" early in their Southern Conference quarterfinal contest against Western Carolina.
If so, there were no obvious signs at any point of Thursday's game.
The Mocs used a 16-0 run to build a 22-point lead after one quarter. They took a 34-point lead into halftime and cruised to an 85-41 victory at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The 85 points were the second-highest total in UTC's four seasons under coach Jim Foster. The Mocs made 11 3-point shots, the program's most since 12 against UNC Greensboro on Jan. 19, 2015.
Jasmine Joyner and Shelbie Davenport scored 14 points each to lead the Mocs (19-10), who face UNCG this morning at 11. Joyner added nine rebounds and five blocks. Chelsey Shumpert scored 12 points and was one of three players — Aryanna Gilbert and Davenport being the others — to make multiple 3-pointers.
UTC dominated in every facet of the game, outrebounding the Catamounts 46-27 and turning 15 turnovers into 23 points. The Mocs had 18 fast-break points and 15 off second chances.
"I thought we moved the ball well and we talked," Foster said. "When we do that, we're a pretty good team. We've gradually started becoming a better 3-point shooting team in the last three weeks and that makes us a good team, because we have players that can go to the basket and it stretches teams out more, so Jaz has more freedom."
The Mocs led 30-8 after a quarter, led by eight points apiece from Shumpert and six from Joyner, Aryanna Gilbert and Queen Alford. As a team they shot 75 percent from the field, pressuring the Catamounts into four early turnovers and 22 percent shooting, which led to chances in transition.
"We talked about things we needed to work on, to adjust to," Joyner said. "We adjusted very well, we had good energy and we played team ball. When we did that, other players got to come in and that was more fun for us."
Joyner called the last shot of the third quarter, a Molly Melton 3-pointer — the first made 3 of her career — "the most fun moment for me."
The Mocs led 49-15 at halftim, built the margin to 45 on Melton's last-second shot and held their biggest lead, 85-33, on a Moses Johnson jumper with 3:04 remaining.
Raziyah Farrington and Sherae Bonner, the Catamounts' two leading scorers during the regular season, paced their team Thursday with eight points each.
"When we play together and we're cohesive as one, it's always fun," Shumpert said.
"Now we have to keep the intensity for later on in the tournament."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.