CHATTANOOGA — Winning on the basketball court isn’t supposed to be easy, but the Walters State Lady Senators have been making it look easy all season long.
The second ranked Lady Senators closed their three-game road swing to open the 2014 portion of their schedule with a flourish Wednesday night by routing Chattanooga State 80-43 in a Region VII showdown.
Walters State opened the game with an offensive explosion, and they closed the same way to stifle any thoughts of a Chattanooga State comeback in the second half.
With the win, the Lady Senators improve to 19-0 on the season and 8-0 in TCCAA play.
The loss dropped the Lady Tigers to 8-7 overall and 4-4 in league action.
“Overall, I’m pleased with our effort and how well we played, especially in the first half,” Walters State coach Dave Kragel said. “Our offensive execution was where we wanted it to be, and we played pretty well on the defensive end for the most part. I wasn’t happy with how many turnovers we had, but we did a good job of making up for it.”
Chattanooga State scored the opening two buckets of the game and led more the first four minutes, but a free throw Gaby Gilmore followed by a 3-pointer by Karly Frye sparked an offensive outburst for the Lady Senators.
Bre Hall scored 10 points in a 21-6 run that put Walters State ahead 27-12, and they were just heating up. The lead reached 20 on a mid-range jumper by Frye, and it remained near that number the remainder of the half. Jephany Brown and Gilmore both hit a pair of free throws before Hall popped in another 3-pointer to close the half with the Lady Senators on top 49-23.
Walters State was red-hot in the first half, shooting 56.7 percent (17 of 30) from the field, including 5 of 8 from long range. They also connected on 10 of 14 from free throw line in the half. Hall tossed in 13 points and Brown had 8 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Lady Tigers struggled in the opening half from the floor, shooting just 28.6 percent (10 of 35) and misfiring on all 8 attempts from behind the 3-point line. Chattanooga State also committed 13 turnovers, leading to 15 points for WSCC. Araya Flemings led the Lady Tigers with 8 points in the opening frame.
The Lady Senators were sharp in the opening five minutes, with Brown scoring 6 points and MiShannon Wilbanks adding 5 to help push the lead to 60-23. After that, WSCC struggled for much of the remainder of the game on offense, but the Lady Tigers were in too deep a hole to recover.
Chattanooga State got no closer than 26 in the second half before a late barrage of points by the Lady Senators provided the final score.
WSCC shot 47.5 percent (29 of 61) from the field in the win, including 9 of 17 from long range.
The Lady Senators also outrebounded the Lady Tigers 46-33.
Brown paced Walters State with 20 points, and she also added 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots in the win. Hall added 16 points and 7 rebounds, while Wilbanks totaled 10 points and 6 boards and Jasmine McAllister tallied 9 points and 7 rebounds. Frye added 6 points and 6 assists in the victory.
“It was a total team effort,” Kragel said. “Jephany had a good game, and Bre hit several big shots, especially in the first half when we got the lead. I’m happy to get this win, with it being on the road and a league game.”
Chattanooga State shot a frigid 30 percent (18 of 60) in the contest, including just 1 of 12 from behind the 3-point line. Flemings and Simone Smith each had 12 points in the loss.
The Lady Senators will play their first home game of 2014 on Saturday afternoon when they host 20th ranked Cleveland State at ‘Z’ Buda Gymnasium. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
-By Matt Daniels, Tribune Sports Editor