ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Furman SID) — Tate Walters scored 18 points to help give Furman an early lead it would never relinquish and the Paladins turned in a strong defensive performance to stymie Chattanooga, 58-40, in Ingles Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal round action Thursday evening at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville.
The victory sends No. 6 Furman (11-13), which has now won four straight, into a 2:15 p.m. Friday semifinal round matchup against No. 2 seed Mercer, which knocked off Western Carolina in first round play on Thursday.
Walters, who earlier in the week was named to the SoCon’s All-Freshman Team, drained 7-of-11 shots, including 3-of-4 3-point attempts, and a free throw for her 18 points, which she combined with eight rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 39 minutes of play.
Two-time All-SoCon forward Tierra Hodges also feasted on UTC, registering 16 points and 15 rebounds to notch her league leading 14th double-double of the season. She was joined in a big way by fellow Paladin senior Celena Taborn, who went 6-of-6 from the field and scored 12 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter in helping Furman cruise to the victory.
Chattanooga’s 40 points marked the fewest allowed by Furman in a SoCon Tournament game in program history, which spans 64 contests dating back to 1984.
The Paladins’ impressive effort featured solid shooting from the field (46.8 percent, 22×47 FGAs) with dominating work on the glass, where they recorded a 41-25 advantage. Chattanooga,which entered tournament play having won six of its final eight games, shot just 30.9 percent from the field, connecting on just 1-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc.
The Mocs grabbed an early 4-0 lead, but after that it was pretty much all Furman as Walters put the Paladins ahead for good with a layup for a 6-4 lead, and finished off the period and a 13-2 Furman run with a 3-pointer for a 13-6 lead after one quarter.
Walters tallied Furman’s first six points of the second period, and junior Grace van Rij capped a 9-0 Paladin run with a net stretching trey to beat the shot clock and give Furman a 22-6 advantage four minutes into the period.
Chattanooga trailed 22-13 at intermission and twice managed to get within seven points of Furman in the third quarter, but Taborn and Hodges put the game away in the fourth by combining to score 19 of the Paladins’ 24 points.