The Lady Mocs needed help and they got it.
Two games back of Southern Conference leader Appalachian State with four games remaining, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team got a big boost last Saturday when Davidson beat the Mountaineers.
With the win, Davidson and App State share first place with 16-2 records in league play. The Lady Mocs (19-7, 14-3) are right behind them and host Davidson on Saturday and App State on Monday, after visiting fourth-place Samford (16-10, 11-6) tonight.
There is much work to be done, and UTC has to beat the SoCon's best teams to regain the league crown it lost last season, but the title is now there for the taking.
"It just kind of lit a fire under us, I think," guard Kayla Christopher said. "Before, [winning the SoCon] wasn't really in our hands, but now it is. We control our own destiny right now."
Last week, Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore kept reiterating to his team that there was still reason for hope. Not long after UTC beat Western Carolina last Saturday, Davidson completed its season sweep of App State, making it a three-team race for the championship.
UTC will be facing a Samford squad that suffered a surprising 52-44 loss at Western Carolina on Monday. The Bulldogs led 26-17 at halftime, but the final 20 minutes belonged to the Catamounts.
Samford shot just 28.3 percent from the field, nearly 15 percent below its league-leading average of 43 percent. The Bulldogs are 9-0 at home this season and Moore knows the Lady Mocs will have to be very sound defensively against Samford's Princeton-style system.
"They do a great job of reading the 'D,' and if you take one thing away they're going to try to exploit it another way," Moore said. "The thing is, they have five kids out there that can hurt you shooting the 3 or attacking off the bounce. They just create a lot of problems."
The bottom line, Moore said, is defending against Samford is "a pain in the [rear end]." But if UTC can prevail, it will return home for its final two games with the SoCon title very much within reach.
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 ...