Chattanooga, Tenn.,– On the night of the $1.5 billion Powerball drawing, the women’s basketball team shared the wealth in their 77-59 win over Western Carolina; marking the program’s 51st consecutive victory within the Southern Conference.
Wednesday’s 18-point decision was a direct product of UTC forcing the Catamounts to play the type of game the Mocs like to play–a strategy that has proven to be unfavorable to many of UTC’s opponents throughout their winning streak.
“We had to take care of the ball. I think we did that. The other team doesn’t have to dictate how you play. You can dictate how you play,” UTC head coach Jim Foster said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of dictating the tempo, good ball movement. A lot of people contributing and scoring points.”
For the first time this season, Chattanooga (12-5, 3-0 in SoCon) saw four of their players score in double digits. Sophomore guard Keiana Gilbert, Pulaski, Tenn., tallied 17 points on 8-12 shooting, Alicia Payne, Memphis had arguably her best night on the floor as a Moc by scoring a career-high 16 points, while Jasmine Joyner, Southaven, Miss., displayed another impressive performance thanks to 13 points and an eye-opening eight blocks.
Outscoring them all however was redshirt junior guard Queen Alford who recorded a game-high 20 points in her 28 minutes on the floor.
It may be Alford’s first year in action for UTC, but it’s the five-foot-ten guard’s third time leading her squad in scoring this season–a feat that hasn’t gone unnoticed from her teammates.
“She’s gotten more aggressive,” Joyner said of her teammate. “She hasn’t played in two years and now she’s remembering her strength and she’s bringing a lot to us to this game.”
The conference schedule is now in full swing, and with a little more than a month to go until the regular season’s end, the Mocs are still leaning on lessons learned from their tough non-conference stretch to start the campaign. A run that included the likes of No. 1 ranked UConn, as well as Tennessee and Stanford.
“We play the schedule we play for a reason. It toughens us up,” Coach Foster said. “It makes us better basketball players. We’re starting to blend into a cohesive unit that plays to their attributes.”
Chattanooga will look to continue reaping the benefits of those early challenges Saturday afternoon when they match-up with UNCG in the first of a doubleheader at McKenzie Arena. Tip-off for the women’s game is set for 2 p.m.