Taylor Hall got off to a fast start, and her University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball teammates quickly got up to speed Friday night at McKenzie Arena.
That good start to the game led to a comfortable start to the season in an 82-70 win against Alabama. A crowd of 3,633 was on hand for the first game of the Jim Foster era at UTC -- a game the Mocs led by as many as 26 points -- and the second game of a successful doubleheader. UTC's men drilled Covenant 119-56 in the first game.
UTC led 12-11 before getting things going on both ends of the floor and closing the first half on a 33-10 run. The Mocs were in control the rest of the way, though the Tide cut into the lead late.
"The really, really good teams have a frontcourt player that is a playmaker. ... That's what she does for us," Foster said of Hall, "so we have a chance to be a really good team as a result."
Hall, who had 22 points and seven rebounds in UTC's season-opening upset of Tennessee last season, had eight of the Mocs' first 12 points and finished with 24, matching her career high. She was one of six UTC players in double figures -- the first time that's happened since 2000.
"We played like we've been practicing," Hall said, something she said UTC didn't do in its 46-44 exhibition win against Lee on Monday.
It was a quiet night for forward Ashlen Dewart, the Southern Conference preseason player of the year, who had just three points. It was a very busy night in the paint for Faith Dupree, who scored 10 points and was a post presence.
Dupree had 13 rebounds against the Tide after grabbing 22 in 21 games last season.
"That's something that Coach Foster challenged me on this season," Dupree said. "He looked at the stats from last season and realized that that wasn't good enough."
It took UTC point guard Alicia Payne 12 games to score a point as a freshman last season. She hit two first-half 3-pointers Friday and finished with 11 points. Joining Dupree with 10 were KaVonne Towns, Meghan Downes and Tatianna Jackson.
Three Alabama players scored 16 or more, led by Shafontaye Myers' 19.
UTC has won the past three games against the Southeastern Conference school. The Mocs went to Tuscaloosa last season and beat the Tide 72-58. In 2007, it was a 62-34 UTC blowout at the Roundhouse.
The Mocs will get a few days to work on things before heading to Knoxville on Thursday to play No. 4 Tennessee.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.