ASHEVILLE, N.C. – ETSU rallied from a 24-point second-half deficit to tie the game with 1.7 seconds on the clock to send it to overtime, but Chattanooga outscored the Bucs 10-5 in the extra five minutes to defeat ETSU, 61-56, and win the 2015 Women’s Southern Conference Championship, presented by General Shale. The win gave the Mocs their third-straight SoCon tournament championship and third-consecutive automatic bid to the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The loss drops ETSU to 21-11 in the Buccaneers first season in the Southern Conference since 2005.
Chattanooga led 43-19 with 17:23 left in the second half, before ETSU went on a furious 24-3 run over the next 11 minutes to cut the Chattanooga lead to three with 5:02 remaining. The teams then traded baskets over the next 2:30, until Serena Clark grabbed a rebound off a Destiny Mitchell miss and laid it in with 1.7 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.
Chelsey Shumpert’s third three of the game sparked a 7-0 Chattanooga run to open the overtime period, building a lead that ETSU could not overcome. The Buccaneers scored as time expired to give Chattanooga the five-point win at 61-56.
Shumpert led the Mocs with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, while SoCon Championship MVP Jasmine Joyner added a team-high nine rebounds. Keiana Gilbert dished out a team-high four assists and grabbed five rebounds while contributing nine points.
ETSU was led by senior Destiny Mitchell with 19 points and 10 rebounds, her ninth double-double of the season, while Shamauria Bridges was the only other Buccaneer in double figures with 12. Serena Clark added 11 rebounds and five blocks for ETSU, who shot 46.7 percent in the second half to fuel the comeback.
Neither team shot the ball well out of the gate, with two three-pointers by Shumpert giving Chattanooga the 6-3 advantage heading into the first media timeout of the half. A three by Mitchell tied the game at six before the senior got a layup to fall to give ETSU the 8-6 lead with 13:30 remaining. Two free throws by Bridges capped an 8-0 ETSU run that spanned over four minutes, before UTC got a bucket from Moses Johnson to cut the lead to two at 10-8. Bridges then drained a three with 11:23 remaining to give the Buccaneers the 13-8 lead to send the teams to the under-12:00 media timeout.
Out of the timeout, four quick points by Chattanooga cut the lead to one, before a block by Clark led to a fast-break layup for Maria Bond, pushing the ETSU lead back to three at 15-12 with 9:23 remaining. A free throw by Shumpert followed by a block by Johnson on one end and a three on the other then gave Chattanooga the 17-15 lead heading into the under-8:00 timeout.
Free throws from Ka’Vonne Towns upped Chattanooga’s lead to 19-15, while the Mocs’ nationally-ranked defense held ETSU without a basket for nearly four minutes, before Bond ended the drought to cut the lead to two at 19-17. Chattanooga again ramped up the defensive pressure over the half’s final five minutes and used a 16-2 run to take a 35-19 lead into halftime.
Chattanooga opened the second half on an 8-0 run, before a layup by Mitchell put the Buccaneers on the board and cut the lead to 43-21 heading into a media timeout. Over the next 8:52, ETSU used an 18-3 run of its own to cut the Chattanooga lead to nine at 46-37 with 8:03 remaining.
Out of the timeout, the Buccaneers continued their furious comeback, scoring four quick points to cut the lead to five with 6:12 left in the game. A layup by Tianna Tarter cut the lead to three, before Towns ended Chattanooga’s seven-minute scoring drought to push the lead back to five. Another layup by Tarter on the other end again cut the lead to three at 48-45 heading in to the under-4:00 media timeout.
Ka’Vonne Towns knocked down a jumper with 2:50 left to push the lead to four, before a jumper by Destiny Mitchell again cut the lead to two. ETSU called a timeout with 15 seconds remaining, then Serena Clark got the offensive rebound and laid it in with 1.7 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 51 and sent it to overtime.
Chattanooga outscored ETSU 10-5 in the extra five minutes, giving the Mocs the 61-56 win and their third-straight SoCon title.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player
Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga
All-Tournament First Team
Destiny Mitchell, ETSU
Tianna Tarter, ETSU
Whitney Bunn, Furman
Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga
Chelsey Shumpert, Chattanooga
All-Tournament Second Team
Serena Clark, ETSU
Brittany Hodges, Furman
Precious Bridges, Mercer
Alicia Payne, Chattanooga
Ka’Vonne Towns, Chattanooga