ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Chattanooga Mocs earned a fifth straight Southern Conference Championship presented by General Shale in a 61-59 thriller over Mercer. The Mocs roared back from a 13-point second-half deficit for the title.
The five straight titles is a record, eclipsing the mark the Mocs set from 2001-04 and had matched coming into the 2017 tournament.
It was a 45-32 lead for the Bears with 2:32 to play in the third quarter. Ten minutes later, the Mocs were up six, 58-52, following a 27-7 run over 10:16 of clock time.
Kahlia Lawrence buried a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half as time wound inside two minutes. Chelsey Shumpert nailed two free throws with 22.2 seconds for a four-point advantage, 60-56. KeKe Calloway buried a triple just six seconds later, setting the dramatic ending.
The Bears stole the inbounds pass. Lawrence drove to the basket but her layup over Jasmine Joyner was off the mark. Joyner grabbed the rebound and made a free throw with 3.9 seconds to go for the 61-59 lead.
The Bears pushed the ball up the floor. Linnea Rosendal’s 19-footer danced around the rim before falling off as the buzzer sounded.
Joyner, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, had 17 points and 15 rebounds to lead the champs, who shot 72.7 percent (8-for-11) in the final frame. Lakelyn Bouldin and Queen Alford added 13 apiece, while Aryanna Gilbert chipped in 11 with five rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
Calloway’s career-high 25 points paced the Bears. Kahlia Lawrence added 22, with Amanda Thompson grabbing a team-best 10 rebounds.
Chattanooga (21-10) | Mercer (25-6)
Chattanooga: Made 10-of-15 from the floor (66.7 percent) after trailing by 13 with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter ... limited the Bears to 4-for-16 (25.0 percent) shooting from the floor in the fourth quarter, 20.0 percent (2-for-10) on 2-point attempts.
Mercer: Keke Calloway made a tournament-record-tying seven 3-pointers scoring her 25 points in 24 minutes played.
Chattanooga: 18th Southern Conference tournament championship for the Mocs ... perfect 18-0 in the final.
Mercer: Six losses have come to Chattanooga (three times), at Georgia, at Georgia Tech and at Florida State.
Chattanooga leads the all-time series 16-2 ... 3-0 in 2016-17 ... 2-0 in the SoCon tournament, with both meetings coming in last two title tilts.
Tianna Tarter, ETSU
KeKe Calloway, MER
Kahlia Lawrence, MER
Sydni Means, MER
Jasmine Joyner, UTC
Cierra Carter, FUR
Mangela Ngandjui, UNCG
Nadine Soliman, UNCG
Lakelyn Bouldin, UTC
Chelsey Shumpert, UTC
Most Outstanding Player
Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga
Pinnacle Award (highest GPA on championship-winning team)
Ansley Chilton, Chattanooga