published Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Alex Black adjusting, stepping up for UTC

  • photo
    UTC Lady Mocs guard Alex Black looks to take a shot during practice at the Chattem facility in this file photo.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Like for some of her teammates, it took a while for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior guard Alex Black to get accustomed to the new offense coach Jim Foster brought with him when he took over last spring. Once the calendar turned over to 2014, Black has taken her game to another level.

After scoring only 43 points in the first 13 games of the season, Black has scored 41 in the last four -- all wins. She has shot 53 percent (8-for-15) from 3-point range to provide yet another scoring threat in Foster's offense.

"It wasn't easy, but I've gradually learned what he wants and how he wants things done," she said. "I had to mess up some at the beginning, but slowly I've figured it out. I've just tried to practice better, and Coach has always just told me to let the game come to me."

The biggest change for Black was moving to an off-guard role after playing a lot of point guard under former coach Wes Moore. It's meant a lot more opportunities for open shots, with so much attention being paid to the interior players, as well as point forward Taylor Hall -- shots Black initially was reluctant to take but feels more comfortable with now. She had 14 points in the second half against Appalachian State on Monday, helping the Mocs shake off a pesky opponent on the road in overtime. Black was 5-for-6 from the field and hit three of her four 3-point attempts in that game.

She also came up big against Georgia Southern, hitting a couple of key jump shots when the Eagles made a late run. Of her 41 points in 2014, 26 have come in second halves.

Foster, who enters tonight with 797 career victories, praised both Black and fellow senior guard Meghan Downes, as the two combined to score 24 points and dish out six assists with no turnovers in the overtime win against Appalachian State.

"Those two have played well the past few games," Foster said. "To me they're all freshmen because it's the first year I've seen how they play. So how they adjust and make changes has taken a while. We have depth, and not just one player who plays a position, and that's been a luxury to have."

The Mocs will be back on the floor tonight, hosting Wofford in the first of three home games in a row. UTC has the nation's longest winning streak at 32 games.

"I think I need to be more consistent with my play, but there are times in which I feel I personally need to step my game up," Black said. "We're good at home, and we're coming off a big win on the road and I hope we can carry that over at home."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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