As it turned out, Wes Moore dressed for the occasion Saturday.
Decked out in all black for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s “black out” day at McKenzie Arena, Moore spent most of his women’s basketball team’s 57-31 win over the College of Charleston with his arms folded across his chest, his head shaking from side to side and a pained expression on his face.
The wardrobe matched his mood during much of a game that often had the announced crowd of 2,768 groaning. Postgame, despite winning by 26 points, he wasn’t feeling much better.
“The first half was pretty ugly,” he said, adding, “They do a great job defensively and make it hard for you to run your stuff.”
The numbers weren’t pretty for either team. At least most of them. Among the positive numbers: UTC (17-7, 12-3 Southern Conference) outrebounded the Cougars 54-36, led by Taylor Hall with 12 rebounds, including six offensive. The Lady Mocs finished with 20 offensive boards.
Of course there were a lot of rebounds to be had. The College of Charleston hit just 11 of 54 shots in the game, while UTC shot much better in the second half (41.4 percent) but finished 22-of-63 for the game.
“We knew our shots would start falling eventually if we just kept playing hard,” said Hall, who had her 11th double-digit rebounding game of the season. “We tried to pick it up on defense and rebound, and just do the little things while our shots weren’t falling.”
Kayla Christopher hit five of nine shots and led all scorers — she was the only player in double figures — with 11 points. Alex Black scored nine off the bench.
Between field goals (43) and free throws (five), UTC and Charleston missed a combined 48 shots in the first half. Hall had 11 rebounds, including the six offensive, in 11 first-half minutes of action.
“I just crashed the boards,” she said. “We work on that every day, and the whole team is really starting to crash the offensive boards really well.”
The Cougars, who average a SoCon-low 46.2 points a game and were held to four first-half points against Davidson on Feb. 4, had the lead early. Cathryn Hardy hit a long jumper to put the Cougars up 10-6 with 13:38 to play in the half.
What followed was a drought of more than seven minutes, during which UTC was able to take only a 12-10 lead. The Lady Mocs got their first 3-pointer, in nine attempts, at the 2:28 mark of the half, which put them up 18-14.
The lead went to 20-14 on a pretty play: Tenisha Townsend lobbed a pass into the paint to Whitney Hood, who tapped it to a cutting Hall for a layup. The Lady Mocs led 24-14 at halftime — the fewest points UTC has allowed in a half this season — and continued to stretch the lead in the second.
“We’re not a bad rebounding team, but [the Lady Mocs] really did a good job and it seemed like they got every loose ball,” said Cougars coach Nancy Wilson, who is retiring after the season.
The Lady Mocs, who remain in third place in the SoCon, host Georgia Southern on Monday.
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 ...