MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — Chattanooga State looked dead in the water when they were down by 14 points with just over five minutes to go in Saturday's game at Walters State. Four 3-pointers down the stretch changed all that.
The Lady Tigers scored 12 points from behind the arc in a four-minute stretch to slice Walters State's big lead to only four points but the Lady Senators were able to get to the free throw line to seal the deal as they prevailed 65-59 Saturday afternoon.
Walters State improves to 23-4 overall and remains undefeated in conference play at 15-0. Chattanooga State slips to 17-8 and their conference mark evens at 7-7.
Lady Senators head coach Dave Kragel was none too pleased with his team's defensive performance once they built their big lead. "We didn't do anything to stop them when they started hitting those 3-pointers. We didn't play any defense, we thought the game was over and just laid down. We didn't handle the ball well because when they pressed us, we just stood around and watched and we didn't get things done."
Half of the Lady Tigers' points came from long range and Kragel said the defense struggled all night long. "We had trouble defending everybody. We played awful and let Shanice Nelson have a heyday. She wore us out by going 5-of-7 from 3-point range, we still don't know where she's at. It was an ugly, ugly win but if we plan to get anywhere in the tournament, we had better get a lot tougher."
The two teams swapped baskets early on until a 3-pointer by Walters State's Zacharyia Esmon put the home team up 17-12. The Lady Tigers cut the lead to a single point at 19-18 when Ashlyan Baker scored with 35 seconds to go but Esmon got the hoop and harm with 28 seconds remaining in the opening period and completed the 3-point play to lead 22-18.
Period number two was similar to the first as the two teams battled in a close affair. Shanice Nelson hit a triple for Chattanooga State to make the score 28-23 but it was at that point the Walters State offense finally clicked. Jamya Rogers scored on a layup and that sparked a 9-0 run by the Lady Senators. Alexis Trice connected on a 3-pointer with 13 ticks showing and Walters State led 37-25 at the half.
Chattanooga State had the hot hand to begin the third frame as they hit three triples in a row to keep things close. The Lady Senators rebounded to reel off 11 points in a row that was highlighted by a 3-point play on the hoop and harm by Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu to make it 52-34 which was the biggest lead of the game.
The Lady Senators enjoyed a 14-point cushion at the 5:20 mark of the fourth period but that was when the Lady Tigers got happy from behind the arc. Nelson and LaKrista Walker combined to hit four 3-pointers as Chattanooga State sliced the lead all the way down to four points at 58-54 with 59 seconds to go. Forced to foul, the Lady Tigers sent Walters State to the charity stripe where they delivered as Derrinesha Jackson, Brianna Dixon, and Esmon combined to go seven-of-eight from the line to wrap up the 65-59 win.
Esmon scored 16 to lead Walters State and the Lady Senators got 12 points each from Dixon, Mendjiadeu and Rogers. Nelson led all scorers as she netted 25 for Chattanooga State. Baker and Walker each contributed 10 points for the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Senators will conclude the regular season next Saturday afternoon when they face Roane State in Harriman.