By John Mitchell — Sports Editor
15 days allowed UTC women’s basketball head coach Jim Foster to rely on his starters heavily in the Mocs’ 66-55 win over Florida’s Stetson University Monday night.
The trio of Shelbie Davenport (4), Moses Johnson (3) and Aryana Gilbert (3) split the UTC bench’s 10 minutes of floor time, while the starting Chelsey Shumpert, Lakelyn Bouldin, Queen Alford, Keiana Gilbert and Jasmine Joyner erased a slow first half with a 20-2 run to start the third quarter that allowed the now-5-6 Mocs to pull away from the Hatters.
“I think the mentality changed,” Shumpert said about the difference in play from the first half to the second. “We knew we had to step up the energy out of halftime and focusing on that helped us in the end.”
Joyner scored a season and team-high 19 points. Behind her was Shumpert with 15, followed by Keiana Gilbert (13) and Bouldin (12)
Exam Week and Holiday Break
The next game for UTC will be in over two weeks at Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 20. In the meantime, the student-athletes will be focusing on exam week and taking advantages of the benefits that come with having an entire campus to themselves.
“It’s just beautiful,” Joyner said about being on campus during winter break. “It’s silent and we have parking spaces. That’s just beautiful.”
While players enjoy some free time on campus, their experienced head coach encouraged his team to take some time to explore the city of Chattanooga — especially its restaurants.
“I challenged the seniors three years ago to find new places to eat and break their habits and routines,” Foster said. “Cross the river. There’s plenty of great places to eat in the north part of the city. You’ve got a nice little city here find something else about it…you just have to convince them that their mother isn’t the greatest cook on the face of the earth.”
Joyner follows up on historic feats
The past few weeks have been especially kind to UTC’s six-foot-two center. In the Mocs’ 49-39 loss to Maine on Nov. 27 in the Hall of Fame Challenge final, Joyner set the all-time Southern Conference record for blocked shots in a career when she finished the game with 341 — two blocks past the record.
On Dec. 3 at Tennessee-Martin, the Southaven, Miss., native became just the 27th player in school history to reach the 1,000 career points mark. The prior accomplishments set the stage for Joyner Monday night when she posted a near triple-double in the win (19 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks).
Shumpert, Bouldin adjusting to running the offense
The effects of losing a point guard like Alicia Payne has been noticeable at times during games — specifically on the offensive side of the ball.
For the first time in her UTC career, Shumpert — a redshirt junior — is being asked to be a true point guard with all the responsibilities of being the coach on the floor. Assisting her in this mission has been freshman Lakelyn Bouldin who has earned a consistent spot in the starting rotation due to her outstanding play so early into her collegiate career.
As Coach Foster has noted, throwing a freshman into a starting rotation filled with veterans can be a recipe for failure, the duo of Shumpert and Bouldin have been seeing recent success in running the team’s backcourt.
“As the games go by it’s definitely getting better,” Shumpert said about her on-court chemistry with Bouldin. “She is a freshman but she catches on quickly. We just work together and it doesn’t matter who brings the ball up as long as we get it out quickly. She’s a great shooter so all I have to do is find her and vice versa.
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