By Carey Phillips

 

Lakelyn Bouldin scored 22 points last Thursday leading UT-Chattanooga to a 59-52 win over Western Carolina in the Southern Conference women’s basketball opener at the Ramsey Center.

Bria Dial and Nakeia Burks added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Lady Mocs, who entered the game with just one victory.

Lauren LaPlant and Andrea Martin-Ruiz both had 15 points for the Lady Cats.

LaPlant opened the scoring with a three-pointer just 29 seconds into the game, but that would be WCU’s only lead.

Burks’ three-pointer put UT-C ahead to stay, 5-3, with 7:16 on the clock. That started a 12-2 run, capped by Bouldin’s trey, for a 12-5 lead at the 1:12 mark.

The Lady Mocs were up 14-8 at the quarter break.

The biggest lead of the half was 26-16 on Dial’s basket with 2:24 to play, and the halftime margin was 28-22.

Dial’s free throw gave UT-C a 37-26 advantage with 4:27 to play in the third period, which ended with the score 39-33.

Western kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter and came within five on five occasions. Each time the Lady Mocs responded.

The last occasion was 55-52 on a three-pointer by Martin-Ruiz with 22 seconds left.

Bouldin was four of four from the line down the stretch to seal the win.

Both teams struggled from the field with UT-C hitting 35.3 percent and WCU making 33.9 percent of its tries.

Jewel Smalls’ eight rebounds helped Western to a 38-37 edge on the boards. Abbey Cornelius led the Lady Mocs with nine.

The Lady Cats committed 18 turnovers, and UT-C had 16.

Completing the WCU scoring were Judith Martin-Ruiz with six, Smalls and Tembre Moates with five apiece, Farasia Hodge with four and Alyssa Walker with two.