The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team doesn't quite have a full head of steam going into today's Southern Conference opener, but the Lady Mocs do have reason for optimism.
After dropping their first three games, which included losses to No. 9 Tennessee and No. 21 Georgia, the Lady Mocs (2-4) have won two of their past three.
"There are some encouraging things, but obviously we still have a long ways to go," UTC coach Wes Moore said. "There is light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope it's not a train. ... I definitely feel better than I did a week or so ago."
The Lady Mocs, winners of 11 straight SoCon regular-season titles, were picked to finish third this season. They will open league play against a Georgia Southern squad that also has had a rough start.
The Eagles (1-6, 0-1) fell 78-66 at Wofford on Wednesday in their conference opener and also have lost competitive games to Georgia and Alabama.
"They've got a lot of young players, but they've also played a tough schedule," Moore said. "You can't put a whole lot of stock in records, I don't think, right now."
Last weekend at a tournament at Cal State Northridge, UTC played three good halves and one bad one. The Lady Mocs got off to a miserable start in the first half of their first game, against Wyoming, but rallied in the second half before falling 66-65.
In the second game, against Northridge, UTC got 27 points and 12 rebounds from junior forward Whitney Hood and beat the hosts 74-68.
"I think we're slowly getting into our roles," Hood said. "We started out bumpy, but we're a young team and we're going to go through some bumps in the beginning. Slowly but surely we're catching on to everything."
UTC also got a big game out of sophomore Kylie Lambert, who hit all seven of her shots, including four 3-pointers, and scored a career-high 21 points.
With three new starters and a lot of newcomers on the roster, Lambert said the team couldn't expect to be in midseason form right away."
"I takes time to build chemistry," she said, "and now that everybody knows what everybody can do, it really helps."
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.