Lady Mocs focused on reclaiming their SoCon dominance - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lady Mocs focused on reclaiming their SoCon dominance

ASHEVILLE, NC (WRCB) -- Several comparisons come to mind when Wes Moore thinks about the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team's late-season surge.

Ending the season with big momentum-building wins was exactly what both the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Giants did en route to championships in the last year.

However, the Lady Mocs' head coach knows better than to start referencing parallels when coaching a much younger generation.

"When I do use a sports analogy, they usually don't know who it was that said it or what it is because I date myself so badly," Moore said. Tuesday. "But it's funny to ask them who certain players were and they have no clue."

The one area of the past Moore regularly draws motivation from are visible in the halls and rafters of McKenzie Arena.

He doesn't mind if his team doesn't know specific sports moments from decades past, but he makes sure his players understand what it means to play for UTC.

"We know we have some big shoes to fill. We know they have a great program here that's done really well," said sophomore forward Taylor Hall, who was named first-team all-SoCon earlier this week. "We know we're expected to win. (Coach Moore) has high expectations for us, and anything less than that won't satisfy him."

The Lady Mocs failed to meet those expectations in each of the past two regular seasons, as well as two of the past three Southern Conference tournaments.

Chattanooga will enter this weekend's championship bracket in Asheville as the No. 3 seed for a second straight year, yet Moore knows that doesn't make his team an underdog in March.

"People still are pretty fired up about playing us. There's no doubt," he said. "We've lost a few games this year, and to see the excitement and the celebration after beating us, you know they still circle us on the calendar."

Only four players on the current roster were around to experience that type of excitement and celebration two years ago when the Lady Mocs won the 2010 SoCon Tournament in Charlotte.

For most the lore of an NCAA Tournament trip remains foreign, something only visualized while listening to junior Kayla Christopher or senior Tenisha Townsend tell stories.

"Just hearing the upperclassmen talk about that experience makes me really want to accomplish that," Hall said. "It would be a fun experience and hopefully we'll get there."

So that's the mission when UTC steps onto the court at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday night against the winner of Friday's opening round game between Furman and UNC-Greensboro, and history is on their side.

The Lady Mocs have won the last eight SoCon tournaments held away from the Scenic City, losing only on their home floor in 2005, 2009 and 2011.

"Maybe this was the year it would have been nice to have it at home since we went undefeated here," Moore joked. "But I like being on the road. The team's together all the time and we can control what they're doing.

"We know we're three games away from (an NCAA Tournament bid), but so are a lot of teams," Moore said. "We've got to win this first one, concentrate on one game at a time, and not look too far down the road."

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