Chattanooga’s Shelbie Davenport, Murfreesboro, Tenn., was handed the ball atop the arc, a Furman defender mere inches away from her. As the senior forward had done so many times before, Davenport took it hard to the cup before abruptly whirling away from her defender. A trio of purple shirts confronted after this haphazard move, and Davenport seemingly had nowhere to go. But just as a turnover or a wayward shot seemed inevitable, Davenport took a page out of the injured Molly Melton’s, Knoxville, book and scooped a pass to freshman center Abby Cornelius, who was standing unattended under the rim. Furman’s 13-point second quarter lead was finally cut to one after Cornelius’ and-one layup was on-target, and was completely erased after she hit the ensuing free throw.
The scoreboard now read 61 all, and Chattanooga had a chance to advance to the championship round of the SoCon tournament. But after this sequence, the second-seeded Furman Paladins made just a few more plays than Chattanooga, and ended UTC’s season 73-67.
Chattanooga put up an excellent fight against the Paladins, clawing their way back from an 13 point deficit in the first half behind a flurry of jump shots by Brooke Burnes, Gadsden, Ala., and company. Lakelyn Bouldin, Spencer, Tenn., had an uncharacteristically cold shooting night in Asheville, missing all but one of her mostly-open three point attempts. But during that furious comeback late in the second quarter, Bouldin moved a few steps in and canned a mid range shot to slash the deficit to five.
“There’s nothing that I do specifically, I just keep coaching them,”said coach Katie Burrows in postgame. “They’ve got the fight and the will within them to continue just to fight, especially with all the things stacked up against us. There was probably two games this season that I felt like I had to actually coach effort. That’s not something I’ve felt I had to do much of at all.”
The game remained close throughout, as both teams played with the intensity one would expect from squads who have a chance to make the NCAA tournament. Brooke Burnes connected on seven of her 14 shots, and added a couple of assists, boards, and blocks as well. Arianne Whitaker, Cincinnati, Ohio, could not recreate her magical performance from her previous game against UNCG, but she still provided stellar rim protection on the defensive side of the court. In her final collegiate game, Shelbie Davenport came off the bench and provided 10 points and one spectacular assist.
Furman was led by a balanced scoring attack, featuring five different players in double figures. Le’Jzae Davidson led Furman with 18, while Tierra Hodges dropped 14 and gobbled up six offensive rebounds to keep numerous Furman possessions alive. In a game where every point was precious, The Paladins helped their cause by only missing a single free throw all game.
“Just to be better than we were this year,” said guard Brooke Burnes when asked about expectations for next season
The Mocs finish the season with a 14-17 record overall, and a 8-6 record in conference play. With only three graduating seniors, much of the team can be expected to come back for the 2019-2020 season.