After struggling through a non-conference schedule loaded with Top 10 foes and perennially strong mid-major opponents, the Mocs women’s basketball team rebounded in January and nearly swept through the remainder of its Southern Conference schedule, going 10-4 to gain a surprising share of the SoCon regular season title, Chattanooga’s 22nd title in 37 years of conference competition and the ninth time the Mocs have shared the championship.
The unprecedented midseason about-face made the 2019-20 season memorable for Coach Katie Burrows team. The Mocs finished 12-17 overall after a struggling 0-11 mark through parts of November and December.
The season didn’t lack for excitement. There was a nail-biting, triple overtime win at East Tennessee State and season sweeps over Wofford and Furman, the latter a buzzer-beater victory on the road. After relinquishing a double-digit lead, UTC held Furman off down the stretch. That victory began a five-game winning streak, the Mocs’ longest of the season. The streak led to Chattanooga’s share of the SoCon title.
A pivotal three-game home stretch closed out the year as the Mocs posted wins over Mercer, Samford and East Tennessee State. The women’s season ended in the SoCon Tournament with a loss to Mercer in the quarterfinal round. However, hope was still alive for more game action when Samford, the No. 1 seed, won the tournament, which led to a Women’s National Invitation Tournament automatic bid for the Mocs. Unfortunately, and due to public health concerns over Coronavirus, the WNIT followed the NCAA in cancelling all postseason competition and Chattanooga’s chance to appear in a nationally televised tournament.
This season saw Lakelyn Bouldin climb higher in the Mocs’ record books as she moved to eighth on the all-time scoring list and finished her time with the Mocs ranked third for career 3-point baskets made. She also became the university’s all-time leader in free throw percentage. Bouldin was honored by league coaches with the Ann Lashely Inspiration Award and was named to the All-SoCon third team by media members who cover the conference. The Lashley Award is given annually to a student-athlete or coach who displays courage or service and is named after a former Elon women’s basketball coach.
NaKeia Burks was named to the coaches’ all-defensive team. Bria Dial joined Bouldin on the media’s third team, and Dena Jarrells earned a spot on the coaches and media all-freshman team. Bouldin and Burks both exhausted their eligibility this season, but the Mocs next season will return three starters who accounted for more than 50 percent of UTC’s scoring and rebounding in 2019-20.