ASHEVILLE The Davidson women’s basketball team didn’t trail for all but seven seconds of the second half against No. 1-seeded Chattanooga in the Southern Conference final on Monday.
But timing is everything, and those seven seconds happened to be the final seven seconds.
Davidson relinquished a five-point lead in the final two minutes of play to lose the league’s tournament title 64-63, earning Chattanooga (29-3) the automatic NCAA tournament berth, while Davidson (21-12) and likely will play next in the women’s NIT, if it isn’t selected for the NCAA.
Laura Murray, who finished with a game-high 22 points, brought the ball up with 8.2 seconds left and had an open jumper from the corner, but the shot came up short as time expired.
“It’s something that I never want to feel again, because I never want to lose like that ever again so that’s something that I’ll take away,” Murray said.
Chattanooga, which went 19-1 in conference play this season, beat Davidson in both regular season meetings by a combined 13 points.
The Wildcats went into halftime with a 32-25 lead on the Mocs after shooting 65 percent from the field. Davidson’s lead grew to 11 points early in the second half, but Chattanooga stayed within striking distance most of the time.
Davidson’s leading scorer, Sophia Aleksandravicius, posted 18 points but went the final nine minutes without a score. She battled in the post all game long with Chattanooga’s Ashlen Dewart, who had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Murray’s layup with 2:13 left in the game gave the Wildcats a five-point advantage, but the Wildcats didn’t score again. Chattanooga’s Kayla Christopher collected a Dewart miss and put up an easy layup to give the Mocs the final margin of victory.
“It kind of slipped out at the end,” Davidson coach Michele Savage said. “We needed to make some plays and stops on the other end but we fought hard the whole game.”