Among Southern Conference women's basketball teams, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ranks third in field-goal percentage. When the Lady Mocs put up a shot, they make it 41.1 percent of the time.
At the free-throw line, however, UTC (10-3, 3-1) is nowhere near the top of the SoCon. In fact, the Lady Mocs rank No. 9 in an 11-team league. Following their 10-for-21 performance in Monday's 70-60 overtime loss at Elon, the Lady Mocs are shooting 65 percent (156-of-240) from the line.
"I think we've got some people right now struggling with confidence: 3-point shooting is very inconsistent, and the other night foul shooting was a big contributor in our loss," UTC coach Wes Moore said following Thursday's practice, which ended as it usually does, with the Lady Mocs shooting free throws. "I think it's mental, and I also think it's contagious."
While not dismissing UTC's free-throw issues, Moore is more bothered by what he sees as a drop-off in hustle when it comes to boxing out, as well as overall defensive effort. Elon forced overtime Monday on a putback with six seconds remaining.
"The box-outs are ridiculous," Moore said. "Plus, we're not playing defense with the same intensity that we were earlier in the year."
UTC, which hosts Georgia Southern (2-12, 1-4) at 6 p.m. Saturday, certainly needs to limit its opponents' second-chance points -- Elon had 17. But one or two box-outs might not be so critical if UTC hits more of its free throws.
Of the nine Lady Mocs who have attempted at least 13 free throws this season, an average of one or more per game, six have made less than 62 percent. Kayla Christopher leads the team with a free-throw percentage of .889 (16-of-18).
Center Ashlen Dewart is fouled the most -- it's sometimes the only way to stop UTC's leading scorer in the paint -- and she's made 33 of 57 attempts (57.9 percent). Against Elon she was 4-for-9, making four straight in the second half to give UTC a 55-49 lead with 4:57 to play in regulation.
"You're going to miss them, it happens, but the other night was just unacceptable," Dewart said. "From the missed free throws, to not boxing out, our entire effort was just awful."
Saturday's game will be the Lady Mocs' first at McKenzie Arena since they beat Jacksonville State on Dec. 12.