Wes Moore likes Charleston, S.C. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball coach likes the food, the sights and the fact that he won six Southern Conference tournaments there.
"Charleston's been good to us, no doubt," said Moore, whose Lady Mocs (21-3, 14-1) face the College of Charleston at noon today at TD Arena.
The Cougars (11-12, 7-7) are headed to the Colonial Athletic Association after this season, so today's game will be UTC's last against them in Charleston, at least as SoCon rivals. Well, "rivals" might be a little strong since in his 15 seasons at UTC, Moore has gone 27-5 against the Cougars.
Of Moore's five losses to the Cougars, four came in Charleston's gym. And the Cougars will enter today's game feeling good after winning 74-71 at Davidson on Monday.
That victory did UTC a favor, giving the SoCon-leading Lady Mocs a one-game advantage in the loss column over the Wildcats (14-9, 11-2).
"That definitely was good news," UTC junior forward Taylor Hall said of Davidson's loss, "but at the same time Charleston is our next game. They're going to be coming off a big win, and that kind of makes it -- I don't want to say a tougher game, because it was going to be tough regardless -- but they've got some momentum now."
UTC faced something similar Monday against UNC Greensboro, which was coming off an upset win at Samford. The Lady Mocs had to scramble to beat the five-win Spartans, 74-68, and extend their win streak to 11 games.
The Lady Mocs have five games left in the regular season, three of them away from McKenzie Arena. After Charleston, UTC visits Georgia Southern on Monday. It then hosts Western Carolina and Davidson before finishing the season at Appalachian State on March 2.
Davidson and Appalachian State, who are in second and third places, should be the biggest obstacles as UTC goes for its 12th SoCon regular-season title in 14 seasons. Moore, of course, isn't thinking about anything but the Cougars -- and maybe enjoying one more team meal at A.W. Shucks seafood restaurant.
"It's funny, you're in this mode of surviving. You've got a one-game lead and you've got to keep winning and finding ways to get over the hump," Moore said. "But on the other side of that coin I'm thinking, 'We've got to be getting better.' We've got to improve and clean things up and make that margin for error better than it is, as we head into March."