The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team hasn't always started games very well this season. It's because the Lady Mocs have been a second-half squad that they sit atop the Southern Conference standings.
In last Sunday's 71-53 win over Furman, UTC (12-4, 7-0) trailed 17-9 with 9:28 left in the first half. The Lady Mocs got off to a similarly slow start two days before in their win over Wofford, which scored the game's first seven points.
Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore said there have been some strategic things that he's done that may have contributed to the slow starts, but there have been other factors.
"I think part of it that we've just got to come out with more energy," he said, adding that it would help if the Lady Mocs paid a little more attention to the scouting reports. "They're not paying close enough attention to detail, and I don't know that they are excited about being students of the game.
"That concerns me because in this league right now, there's so much parity that one or two possessions may make a difference."
There were also slow starts against Elon, Cincinnati and UNC Greensboro. Unlike the rest, UTC couldn't fully overcame the early deficit against Cincinnati and lost 51-50.
Perhaps the most extreme example of starting slowly came at UNCG on Dec. 1. The Lady Mocs got behind 20-5 in the first six minutes and managed to cut the deficit to 26-24 by halftime before going on to rout the Spartans 63-46.
"I don't really know the reasoning behind [the slow starts]," said forward Taylor Hall, who has had four straight games with at least 10 rebounds. "I guess we just need to be focused from the start and execute the way we should."
The Lady Mocs were able to fight their way back against mid-of-the-pack SoCon teams such as Furman and Wofford. That may not be the case tonight against Samford (10-6, 5-2) or in upcoming games at Appalachian State (11-3, 5-1) and Davidson (11-6, 7-1).
"We've been a good second-half team all year, but we need to work on our first half," said guard Kayla Christopher, who scored 18 points against Furman. "We can't keep counting on turning things around in the second half. It's not always going to work."
Lady Mocs senior forward Whitney Hood is coming off back-to-back games with at least 21 points and was named the SoCon player of the week Tuesday. She scored a season-high 24 against Wofford and has averaged 19.5 points in her past four games.
This is Hood's first SoCon honor of the season; she was the player of the week three times as a junior.