The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga had plenty of reasons to come out flat against Jacksonville State on Wednesday night at McKenzie Arena: UTC finished exams last week, the Gamecocks were winless and the Lady Mocs were coming a road win at Alabama.
So how did the Lady Mocs do? They won 72-59, but it was not pretty.
"We kind of survived this game," forward Taylor Hall said, later adding, "In a way it almost feels like a loss because we didn't perform to our best ability -- and we know that."
With 9:27 left in the game and UTC up 53-45, coach Wes Moore could be heard yelling, "What's wrong with y'all?" during a timeout. Moore's mood post-game wasn't much better.
"I didn't [sense his team would come out flat], but I was afraid of it," he said.
UTC (8-1) only turned the ball over five times and had 24 second-chance points, but the Lady Mocs shot just 34.2 percent from the field and were 6-for-33 from 3-point range.
At 8-1, UTC has matched its best start under Moore, tying the 1999-2000 squad. The Lady Mocs will try for 9-1 and 3-0 against Southeastern Conference teams next Wednesday at Auburn. Before then, however, the Lady Mocs can expect quite a few tough practices.
"We're going to have to come in to practice with a lot of energy and a good attitude because [Moore's] definitely not happy with this performance," said Ashlen Dewart, who led all scorers with 22 points. "We aren't happy with it either. We're a team full of veterans and we know better."
The Lady Mocs trailed 11-6 early before eventually getting things going for a while. UTC hit 40.0 percent of its shots in the first half and led 42-31 at the break. Jacksonville State (0-9) was able to hang around in the second half, due in part to UTC shooting 9-for-33 in the final 20 minutes.
Hall had the toughest night, going 1-for-13 from the field. She finished with six points and seven rebounds.
The Gamecocks hit 12 of 25 second-half shots and outrebounded UTC 26-17 in the second half. They cut UTC's lead to 63-56 with 2:27 left but never got any closer.
UTC won't return to the Roundhouse until Jan. 12, when it hosts Georgia Southern. In between are four road games, starting with Auburn.