By Peyton Gray, Staff Writer–
The UTC women’s basketball team announced the schedule for their upcoming 2020-21 season.
The Mocs, who are the defending Southern Conference co-champions, will take the court for the first time against Tennessee State on Nov. 25.
Chattanooga earned an automatic bid to the WNIT last year, after claiming their 22nd SoCon title, however, the entire postseason was canceled due to COVID-19.
“There’s a lot of motivation right now because everyone is tired of not playing,” head coach Katie Burrows said. “We’re really looking forward to competing.”
UTC will be playing without Lakelyn Bouldin, their leading scorer last year who is in the Top 10 for 3-pointers made, and is the Mocs’ all-time leader in free throw percentage. The Mocs will also be without guard NaKeia Burks, however, they remain optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We have a lot of pieces of the puzzle that were not able to get on the court last year,” Burrows said. “I’m really excited to have that opportunity with this group.”
Bria Dial, who averaged 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last year will return to lead the Mocs. She was named SoCon Media all-conference last season and was second on the team in scoring with more than 300 points.
The schedule will consist of 10 non-conference games. The Mocs will travel to Austin Peay and Troy and play in the Georgia State Classic. The SoCon season will begin Jan. 9 with three straight home games: ETSU, Samford and Mercer.
The most notable game on the slate is Vanderbilt, a game that will be played at McKenzie Arena on Dec. 13., the first time since 2004.
“We added the Vanderbilt game three weeks ago,” Burrows said. “The last time we played them was my last collegiate game here.”
The 2004 game was the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Mocs had a historic victory over Rutgers in the first round at McKenzie Arena. Vanderbilt was the No. 2 seed in the bracket, ranked 13th on the AP Top 25 poll and defeated the Mocs. Coach Burrows was a senior on that team.
The UTC women’s basketball season is just like all other UTC teams: unpredictable. Their season is contingent on COVID-19 numbers staying low, however, the team remains optimistic.
“My goal over the last two seasons was to get the team chemistry where we needed it to be, and we have that now,” Burrows said. “It’s always a goal to win the conference and if we stay healthy we can do that.”