published Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Lady Mocs want title back

This is what Appalachian State junior Anna Freeman had to say Monday night about the Mountaineers’ back-to-back Southern Conference women’s basketball titles:

“I think it says a lot about our coaching staff and my teammates to be able to step up and repeat when you have players back,” the all-conference forward said. “To do it with some key losses, I think that’s hard work.”

Now consider that the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga won outright or shared the title 11 years in a row before ASU snapped the streak last season. The Lady Mocs (21-8) have finished third in the SoCon the past two seasons and lost in the semifinals of last year’s conference tournament.

Ordinarily, going two years without a title wouldn’t be called a drought. For UTC coach Wes Moore, it feels like one. He may not go so far as to adopt the Ricky Bobby line from “Talladega Nights” of “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” but he’s a lot happier when the Lady Mocs are leading the pack.

At a news conference Tuesday he started to get asked if he liked being the No. 3 seed, perhaps because it took the pressure off, but he jumped in before the questioner was done.

“No, not at all,” he said flatly, adding that he also doesn’t like the idea of playing at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, at the earliest, against the winner of Friday’s game between No. 6 Furman and No. 11 UNC Greensboro. But he’s not going to complain about the game times.

“Like I’ve said before to other people, don’t finish third. We made our bed.”

The Lady Mocs closed out their regular season by doing something no other SoCon team did, beating co-champions Davidson and Appalachian State. The strong finish didn’t necessarily make the Lady Mocs the favorites this weekend in Asheville, N.C., but they’re definitely a threat to capture the program’s ninth tournament title in the past 12 seasons.

“[Moore] had been on us a lot about being tougher, and I think we got that done these last two games,” said forward Taylor Hall, who scored 24 points Monday against App State. “We’re really coming together as a team and feeding off each other.”

The Lady Mocs won the regular-season title during senior point guard Tenisha Townsend’s first two seasons, plus the SoCon tournament her sophomore year. The Lady Mocs went 0-for-2 on titles last season and Townsend doesn’t want that to happen again.

“We’ve beaten everybody in our conference, so that gives us confidence going into the tournament,” she said. “We’re known for winning the regular season and unfortunately that didn’t happen this year, again, but it’s very important to all of us to win the [tournament] title. Hopefully we can take care of business.”

3 Lady Mocs picked

UTC might not have shared the league title this season, but it did have the most players, three, on the SoCon coaches’ all-conference team.

Senior forward Whitney Hood and junior guard Kayla Christopher earned All-SoCon honors for the second year in row, while the honor is the first for Hall, a sophomore.

App State and Davidson had two selections each. Davidson’s Sophia Aleksandravicius was voted the player of the year and defensive player of the year.

Davidson coach Michele Savage was voted the coach of the year, while Furman’s Brittany Hodges was named freshman of the year.

about John Frierson...

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 ...

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