A little more than 90 minutes after the clock ran down to zero Friday night on one of the biggest wins in University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball history, coach Wes Moore and assistant Michael Murray were watching the game tape.
There was much for them to enjoy about UTC’s 80-71 season-opening upset of No. 20 Tennessee, but it was by no means a perfect game for the Lady Mocs. UTC won with some good defense and by making plays at critical times.
“Defensively we definitely were not perfect, technique-wise and execution-wise,” Moore said in a phone interview Saturday. “But our effort and urgency was off the charts.”
Moore was in Murfreesboro recruiting at a big high school tournament Saturday, and he said he was receiving lots of pats on the back from other college coaches.
“It’s been a lot of fun, but what’s really nice is when you win the conference tournament and are getting ready to go to the NCAA tournament and you come up here for the state tournament and see everybody,” he said. “This case is a little different. We’ve still got to play 28 more games.”
Up next is a trip to Belmont on Wednesday.
Friday’s game was tied at 28 at halftime, and UTC led 43-39 with 15:04 remaining. The game went a long way toward being decided in the next couple of minutes.
During one Tennessee possession, the Lady Vols missed a 3-point shot and a pair of point-black putback attempts before being called for a travel — one of their 26 turnovers. On the ensuing UTC possession, Kayla Christopher missed a 3 and Taylor Hall grabbed the rebound.
Hall, who led all scorers with 24 points, missed a putback, rebounded her miss, scored and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but Christopher grabbed the rebound and later hit a 3 to push UTC’s lead to 48-39.
“We went from four up to nine up, and I think that was definitely a key point in the game right there,” Moore said.
The win was UTC’s first over Tennessee in 19 attempts in the Division I era.
UTC was drilled 103-43 (2010) and 90-47 by the Lady Vols in their last two meetings before Friday, but unlike those, the Lady Mocs played with the eight-time national-champion program in the first half this time.
“Once they get you down, they like to keep you down,” Christopher said. “It was really good for our confidence to see that we could play with them right there at the beginning of the game.”
Friday, it was UTC that got the Lady Vols down with a Hall 3 to start the second half — and the Lady Mocs led the rest of the way.
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 ...