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Staff photo by Tim Barber / The UTC bench erupts as Mocs coach Katie Burrows spreads her approving arms for Dena Jarrells, who scored two points on an inbounds pass at the buzzer to end the first half and send the team into the locker room with a 36-35 lead over UNC Greensboro on Thursday night at McKenzie Arena.

UTC (6-16, 5-3 SoCon) vs. WESTERN CAROLINA (4-19, 1-7)

2 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Arena

 

Video & radio: ESPN3 & 97.7 FM/1070 AM

 

Storyline: Things have changed dramatically in recent days for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, which moved into a four-way tie for second place in the Southern Conference standings after a pair of impressive wins — in triple overtime last Saturday at East Tennessee State and Thursday night against UNC Greensboro. The 74-59 home win over UNCG was highlighted by a rousing rally and maybe the best half of basketball coach Katie Burrows' squad has played this year. Senior Lakelyn Bouldin shook off a recent shooting slump to score a season-best 25 points, and freshman Dena Jarrells added 14 points and seven assists. Western Carolina was 0-14 in league play last season but owns a win over Mercer this year, so facing these Catamounts shouldn't be considered a guaranteed victory. With a backcourt of Jewel Smalls, who has averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, and Lauren LaPlant (10 points per game, 61 total 3-pointers), they are better equipped to stay close with opponents. UTC won the first meeting in the season series by seven points on Jan. 9 in Cullowhee, North Carolina, where Bouldin provided 22 points and nine of the Mocs' 17 made free throws.

 

What's at stake? A win obviously would keep the Mocs in no worse than a tie for second in the jumbled SoCon race and could, should Wofford upend Samford, put them in a tie for the top spot with five games left on their regular-season schedule with the last three at McKenzie.

 

Up next: The Mocs begin a two-game road swing by facing Furman at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6296. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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