Lady Mocs Rally Late To Trip Florida Gulf Coast

Chattanooga Overcomes 10-Point Deficit Late To Win 68-61

Sunday, December 17, 2017 - by John Hunt

What a difference a week makes.

Coach Jim Foster was verbally upset and unhappy following a sloppy and uninspired performance by the Chattanooga Lady Mocs and the result was an embarrassing 64-44 loss to Virginia Tech.

The Lady Mocs were facing another really good non-conference opponent in the Florida Gulf Coast Lady Eagles, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. 

The effort was much better and so were the results as the Lady Mocs rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to post a 68-61 win Sunday afternoon.

Chattanooga improves to 7-4 overall while FGC is now 10-3 after a four-game winning streak was snapped.

“We had a nice start and that made a big difference, but we were determined to win this game in the fourth quarter,” said Foster in his post-game comments.

“They all contributed something today, but I thought we made some nice adjustments to get back in the game in the fourth quarter.  We did a good job of following our game plan in the first and fourth quarter and that may have been the difference,” the Hall of Fame coach added.

Coach Karl Smesko felt like his team let a really good opportunity to win on the road slip through their fingers.

“That’s a tough loss for us,” the Lady Eagles coach said after a lengthy post-game talk with his girls.

“We had a nice lead in the fourth quarter, but turnovers and fouls hurt us.  Chattanooga made the plays and they were the tougher team down the stretch.

“We were really sloppy at the start and really dug ourselves a deep hole at the beginning, but were able to make a game of it by halftime. 

“Overall, it was an inconsistent effort on our part.  They beat us to most of the loose balls and they were able to finish at the rim when it was crunch time,’ Smesko added.

The Lady Mocs began the game on a 14-2 run, breaking away from a 2-2 tie to score the next dozen points.  The Lady Eagles were colder than a block of ice from the field at the start as they only hit one of 12 shots before sinking their last two to get within 14-6 when the first quarter ended.

Chattanooga maintained its lead in the second, but five straight points from Jessica Cattani in the last 90 seconds allowed the visitors from Fort Myers to get within two at 29-27 when the halftime horn sounded.

The Lady Eagles came out like a different team in the second half and took the lead for the first time at 32-31 following a 3 by Nasrin Ulel less than two minutes in.  Five more points stretched that lead to 37-31.

Two free throws by Shelbie Davenport with 26.9 seconds remaining allowed Chattanooga to get within four points at 48-44 with one quarter remaining.

Back-to-back 3s from Rosemarie Julien and Taylor Gradinjan at the start of the fourth gave the Lady Eagles their biggest lead at 54-44 with 6:42 to play.

That’s when determination and heart took over for Chattanooga.

China Dow scored on a putback to give the guests a 59-53 lead with 4:36 to play before the Lady Mocs scored seven unanswered points in the next three minutes.

Keiana Gilbert scored on a short jumper in the lane with 1:21 to play to give the Lady Mocs a 60-59 lead.

Ulel responded with a bucket on a drive along the baseline with 55 seconds left for FGC’s last lead at 61-60 before Chattanooga finished the game with eight straight points, including six in a row from the charity stripe in the final 8.3 seconds.

The Lady Eagles kept battling in the waning seconds, but two missed shots and a thrown away inbounds pass prevented any thought of a comeback as the Lady Mocs pulled away at the end to win.

Aryanna Gilbert finished with 18 points to lead the Lady Mocs after scoring only six in the first half.  Davenport was next with 13, including 11 in that frantic second half.

Cattani was tops for the Lady Eagles with a dozen points while Dow was also in double figures with 10.  Ulel and Erica Nelson both finished with nine.

The Lady Eagles won the battle of the boards by a 37-31 margin as Tytionia Adderly led her team with a dozen for her fourth straight game with double-digit rebounds.  Keiana Gilbert had seven to lead Chattanooga while Bria Dial snagged six.

The Lady Mocs return to action on Wednesday with a game at Florida while the Lady Eagles will face Harvard at home on Wednesday.

FLORIDA GULF COAST  6  21  21  13  --  61

CHATTANOOGA  14  15  15  24  --  68

FLORIDA GULF COAST (61) – Ulel 9, Julien 3, Adderly 8, Nelson 9, Gradinjan 6, Cattani 12, Zderadicka 4, Dow 10.

CHATTANOOGA (68) -- Whitaker 4, Melton, K. Gilbert 9, Bouldin 7, A. Gilbert 18, Dial 8, Davenport 13, Burns 6, Lee 3.

3-POINT GOALS: Florida Gulf Coast 8-36 (Ulel 1-5, Julien 1-9, Adderly 0-1, Nelson 0-4, Gradinjan 2-7, Cattani 2-6, Zderadicka 0-1, Dow 2-3); Chattanooga 5-12 (Bouldin 0-2, A. Gilbert 1-4, Dial 2-2, Davenport 1-3, Burns 1-1).

REBOUNDS: Florida Gulf Coast 37 (Adderly 12, Cattani 6); Chattanooga 31 (K. Gilbert 7, Dial 6).

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