For much, if not all, of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team's season-opening win over Tennessee, Taylor Hall was the best player on the court.
The Lady Mocs forward was 9-for-12 from the floor, hit three 3-pointers, grabbed nine rebounds and finished with 24 points. Wait, there's more: she also had five assists, four steals, three blocks and didn't commit a turnover.
For the 6-foot-1 junior, it was about as close as you can get to a perfect start to the season. Unfortunately for Hall, things have been up and down since then.
"I don't know what it is," Hall said, shaking her head at what at times has been a frustrating season for her -- while at the same time the Lady Mocs are 8-1 and off to one of the best starts in school history.
UTC last played on Dec. 12, beating winless Jacksonville State 72-59. Hall went 1-for-13 from the field and made 1 of 8 3s. She also had a 2-for-11 night against Portland State on Nov. 23, and was 2-for-10 in UTC's Southern Conference opener against Wofford on Nov. 29.
After making eight of her first 14 3-point shots this season, Hall has gone 5-for-31 since.
"I guess trying to forget about it is the best way to approach it," Hall said of her tough shooting nights. "Shooting's a lot mental some of the time, so just get past it and not dwell on it. But at the same time, I need to let that be a wake-up call that I need to get in the gym and work on it."
Hall was far from alone in her offensive struggles against the Gamecocks. UTC shot 34.2 percent from the field (25-of-73) and made only 6 of 33 on 3-point attempts.
Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore said all of his players could benefit from more time in the gym working on their shots.
"You have to keep working," he said. "I tell them, 'instead of hanging your head and feeling sorry for yourself when your shot's not going in, get in the gym and shoot.' The harder I work, the luckier I get."
Hall has scored in double figures in five of UTC's nine games, and her scoring average of 10.8 points per game ranks No. 14 in the SoCon. She's also eighth in the league in rebounding (6.4) and ninth in steals (2.2).
Two of her best games were against Southeastern Conference opponents. After starring against the Lady Vols, Hall had 14 points and seven rebounds in UTC's win at Alabama earlier this month.
"I still didn't shoot very well from the 3-point line against Alabama [1-for-5], so hopefully I can get everything worked out before we play Auburn," she said.
The Lady Mocs will try to complete a 3-0 run versus SEC opponents on Wednesday at Auburn. After that, UTC gets a couple of weeks off before visiting UAB on Jan. 2.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...