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It has been an atypical start to the season for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team, which is beginning to find its form after a tough opening stretch.

The Lady Mocs (2-4) have won two of their past three games after dropping their first three, and the play of forward Whitney Hood is a big reason why.

While starting out 0-3 isn't the norm for UTC, having a post player leading the league in scoring certainly is. Hood, who sat out last season after transferring from Clemson, is averaging a SoCon-high 21.2 points per game.

"It's been tough on her," UTC coach Wes Moore said. "You've got to remember, she sat out a year and then got thrown into probably the most critical position on our team.

"The first couple of games I think she maybe had the jitters a little bit and the rust, or whatever, but the last couple of games or so she's really stepped up."

Hood was named the league's player of the week Tuesday after three big games last week. The 6-foot-2 junior scored a career-high 27 points against Austin Peay, 22 versus Wyoming and 27 again plus a career-high 12 rebounds against Cal State Northridge.

"I'm feeling more comfortable with what Coach Moore expects of me," Hood said. "I'm feeling more comfortable out there on the court after being off a year, and I'm just trying to get better every day."

Offensively, Hood said she's pleased with the way she's played.

"Defensively," she said, "I need a lot of work. That's where getting better every day comes in."

The Lady Mocs have had dominant post players for many years. The past four SoCon player of the year awards have gone to UTC forwards, with Alex Anderson and Shanara Hollinquest each winning it twice.

If Hood keeps playing like she did in her last game, against Northridge, she'll have a shot at keeping that run going. In UTC's second game at the Cal State Northridge Holiday Classic, Hood hit 10 of 19 shots and seven of eight free throws and had four assists to one turnover in 36 minutes.

"They doubled her the whole game, off and on," Moore said. "They were good about not letting her know when it was coming and she made great decisions."

The Lady Mocs returned to practice Tuesday and will have a few days to prepare for Saturday's SoCon opener against Georgia Southern (1-5). The game is part of the SportSouth doubleheader, with the UTC men taking on Western Carolina at 1 p.m., followed by the women's game.

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