The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's two games in the Georgia State Holiday Classic didn't do much to alleviate concerns about the Mocs' turnover problems.
UTC's women had 30 turnovers in Monday's 73-70 overtime win over Georgia State, a day after 25 miscues in a 96-87 win over Georgia Southern. But the Mocs also received 30 points and 10 rebounds from junior forward Eboni Williams and some clutch play down the stretch from freshman point guard Sigrun Olafsdottir in improving to 4-4 on the year.
It was a game that should have never been as close as it was. The Mocs hit eight first-half 3-pointers at an 80% rate and held a 15-point lead after a quarter and an 11-point lead at halftime. Yet it also felt as though the Panthers (4-3) would be able to get back in the game as UTC had 12 turnovers in the second quarter alone, allowing the home team to hang around.
And they did. Despite the issues, the Mocs didn't trail in regulation, although they blew a six-point lead with 24 seconds remaining in part because of a turnover sandwiched in between Moriah Taylor and Taylor Henderson 3-pointers.
It's still a problem that has to be fixed, but after eight games in 15 days to start the year, the Mocs don't play again until a Dec. 29 trip to North Alabama.
Olafsdottir finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists. She also had eight turnovers. Bria Dial finished with 14 points, making four of six 3s. She added six rebounds. Abbey Cornelius finished with 14 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
UTC went to Williams early, and she had 14 first-quarter points. Then the Mocs went to her late, with 10 points in the fourth quarter and three more in overtime. The team will lean on her ability to create things on both ends, although she'll still need to improve on the turnovers as she had six Monday.
The Mocs led for 41:09 of game time, buoyed by the fast start from the 3-point line. In the past two games they've made 24 3-pointers, but the team really has had to lean on its defense down the stretch of those games to hold on.
The last 37 seconds belonged to the Mocs. First it was Williams driving and making a short jumper in the lane. She then followed that up with a block of a 3-point attempt by Taylor, which led to a missed shot by Henderson that was knocked out of bounds by the Panthers. Even then, the Mocs turned the ball over one more time on a five-second call with three seconds remaining, but GSU was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.
It's easier for fans to overlook the warts of a team when said team is winning, but the Mocs have a serious turnover issue that won't be fixed immediately. To make matters worse, it's not specific to just one person, as 10 players are averaging at least one turnover a game and six are averaging at least 1.9. I'm not sure the team values possessions, and while it didn't come back to bite the Mocs Monday, it has before this season and it will again if the problems aren't taken care of.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.