As expected, the No. 24 ranked Mocs posted a 2-0 record over the weekend to begin the highly-anticipated 2015/16 season. Chattanooga routed McNeese State in the opening round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament on Friday, and handled business 60-49 against Butler on Sunday.
In the opening round of the WNIT on Friday night, the Mocs hosted McNeese State to Chattanooga, and sent the Cowgirls packing with a 68-53 win.
After starting all 33 games as a freshman and leading the team in victories over Tennessee and Stanford, Keiana Gilbert, Pulaski, Tenn., shined in her sophomore debut, scoring 19 points with six rebounds.
Gilbert may have led the game in scoring, but it was Jasmine Joyner, Southaven, Miss., who gave McNeese State headaches all game. The six-foot-two junior recorded 15 points, but it was her 13 rebounds and six blocks that really changed the game in the season-opener.
On Sunday, Chattanooga welcomed another opponent to Mckenzie Arena. This time, it was a familiar face in the Butler Bulldogs. The Mocs traveled to Indianapolis, Ind., last season, and handed the Bulldogs their third-straight loss with a convincing 76-47 win.
This time was not much different.
The shots were not falling early, as evident by their 33 percent shooting percentage in the first quarter, but the Mocs methodically took and held the lead thanks to junior guard Moses Johnson, Atlanta, who had a key performance off the bench.
“We’ve got depth. And with Moses it’s very obvious when you look at the stat sheet that she’s playing well, and visually she’s playing well,” UTC head coach Jim Foster said. “We’ve worked very diligently to develop our bench and we’re very happy with our versatility.”
The Bulldogs made a push for the lead by narrowing the margin to three early in the fourth quarter. However, an experienced group under their Hall of Fame coach showed no panic while they ballooned their lead back to a more comfortable number.
“We play the schedule we play to have situations like that,” Foster said. “You don’t want to go and play a bunch of people you’re going to win games by 30 and 40 points, and think you’re going to know how good you are when a game gets close. You need to be in those kind of games. We’ve had two scrimmages that were tough for us, and I think we learned a lot about ourselves in these two games now.”
Chattanooga will focus their attention back to the WNIT on Tuesday , when they travel to historic Assembly Hall to face Indiana. The tournament is scheduled to continue through Nov. 22.
*Header photo by Sara Serkownek