ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The top-seeded Chattanooga Mocs cruised to a 75-53 win over No. 4 UNCG in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championships presented by General Shale. The Mocs broke open a close contest with two strong middle periods.
It was a one-point game after 10 minutes. Over the next 20, the regular season co-champs out-distanced the upstart Spartans 35-20 taking firm control into the fourth quarter ahead 49-33.
UNCG scored on its first two possessions to cut the lead to 13, 51-38, but the Mocs slowly pulled away. Aryanna Gilbert’s layup with 5:19 to play extended the advantage to 21, 62-41.
The Spartans hit three of their four shots over a 77-second span, but the deficit was still 17 in favor of the Mocs. An 11-2 run over the next two-plus minutes put the exclamation point on the Chattanooga win.
Jasmine Joyner tallied 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the victors. Chelsey Shumpert chipped in 18 points, three assists and season-high-tying three steals. Lakelyn Bouldin recorded 16 points making 3-4 from beyond the arc.
Nadine Soliman kept the Spartans in the game for as long as she could. The SoCon Freshman of the Year had a game-high 26 points with four rebounds. Te’ja Twitty added a team-high nine rebounds.
The Mocs make their 18th championship game appearance, fifth straight, Sunday at 1 p.m., on ESPN3 (WatchESPN App). They await the winner of (2) Mercer and (6) Samford in today’s second semifinal contest.
A Chattanooga-Mercer final would be a rematch from last year’s title tilt, a 65-57 UTC win. Samford is the last team, other than Chattanooga, to win the tourney crown defeating Appalachian State by one, 54-53, in 2012.
Chattanooga (20-10) | UNCG (17-14)
Chattanooga: The Mocs were +8 in turnover margin (8/16) resulting in a 19-2 advantage in points off turnovers.
UNCG: Take Soliman out of the equation and the Spartans scored 27 points on 33.3 percent (13-39) shooting from the field, 12.5 percent (1-8) from 3pt range and 0-2 performance at the free throw line.
Chattanooga: The Mocs are 18-9 (.667) in SoCon Tournament semifinal action…14th straight SoCon Tournament victory…15-1 since the championships moved to Asheville in 2012.
UNCG: 7th semifinal game for the Spartans…just second semis loss (5-2)…1st time in the semis since defeating Davidson in 2006.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Second-seeded Mercer used a strong fourth quarter to claim a 63-52 win over No. 6 Samford in the Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale semifinals. Sydni Means and Khalia Lawrence combined for 41 points in the victory.
Samford trailed by nine, 30-21, early in the third quarter. Back-to-back baskets from Kassidy Blevins sliced the lead to four, 30-26. Lydia McGee made it a one-point game, 32-31, with a three-ball at 3:55.
Keke Calloway and Means scored on the next two Mercer possessions to extend the cushion to five, 36-31 in just 54 seconds. The Bulldogs battled back to tie the contest 38-all on an Ellen Riggins jumper. Lawrence was fouled on the Mercer side of the floor. She made two free throws for a 40-38 lead heading into the final break.
It was all Mercer from there. The Bears jumped out to an 11-point lead with an 11-2 run to open the period. Kayla Potts capped the spurt at 4:08 for the 51-40 advantage.
The Bulldogs didn’t fold, but Mercer did not wilt. Brittany Stevens’ 3-point shot with 1:03 on the clock cut the margin to six, 56-50. But that was as close as Bears allowed it to get. They made seven of eight free throws down the stretch limiting Samford to 1-for-6 shooting in the final minute.
Means was fantastic tallying 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Lawrence added 20 for the Bears. McGee led the Bulldogs with 11 points and five boards.
The Bears return to the title game with familiar faces at the other end of the court. Mercer and Chattanooga met in last year’s final with Mocs the victorious 65-57. Tipoff is Sunday at 1 p.m., on ESPN3 (WatchESPN App).
Mercer (25-5) | Samford (12-19)
Mercer: Shot 86.4 percent from the free throw line making 19 of 22 attempts. The Bears made more free throws than Samford attempted (11).
Samford: Down two (40-38) heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs shot just 27.8 percent (5-18) in the deciding frame.
Mercer: Now 22-0 this season leading after three quarters…held a narrow 40-38 advantage after 30 minutes today.
Samford: Shot better on 3pt attempts (38.9%, 7-18) than 2pt efforts (34.4%, 11-32) today.