A torrid start led to a solid finish Sunday afternoon for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team.
The Mocs jumped out to a 16-0 lead against Auburn, holding the Tigers scoreless for the first 13:29, then held off a late charge to win the Challenge in Music City Classic with a 50-41 victory in the title game at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville.
The Mocs, who have won five straight games after an 0-3 start, return to competition Saturday at McKenzie Arena. They'll take on UT-Martin at 2 p.m. in the first game of a men's and women's doubleheader.
Keiana Gilbert finished with 15 points and seven rebounds against Auburn, earning tournament MVP honors. Lakelyn Bouldin finished with 11 points Sunday, while Aryanna Gilbert added 10 and made all eight of her free throws.facebook
The Mocs overcame a 23-turnover performance by holding the Tigers (3-3) to 29 percent shooting, including misses on their first 15 shots.
"They're very athletic, and they really come after you," UTC coach Jim Foster said in a postgame interview on the Mocs' radio broadcast. "When you haven't played against that kind of athleticism, the tendency is to go faster than you should, but playing slow is better than fast against a team like that; ball fakes are invaluable against a team like that.
"It's one of the reason that Shelbie (Davenport) had such success when she got into the game. She played slower and used ball fakes, which created opportunities."
Davenport played 28 minutes and scored nine points.
After the slow start, the Tigers trimmed the lead to 23-15 by halftime. The advantage was cut to six points in the third quarter before the Mocs responded with a 10-4 run to go up 35-23 heading into the final period.
In the fourth, the Tigers cut it to 44-39 on a free throw by Jazmine Jones with 42 seconds remaining, but the Mocs responded with four free throws and a Keiana Gilbert layup down the stretch.
"We did a good job getting out to the start we got out to," Foster said. "When we did get a little discombobulated, we made a play or two to get back to a double-digit lead."
Foster said the Mocs, who played three games in as many days, will take a couple of days off before getting back to work in preparation for UT-Martin.
Janiah McKay had 18 points to lead Auburn, while former East Hamiton standout Tiffany Lewis added eight on 2-for-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.