ATLANTA—John Shulman hated to make the call.
But he told his Mocs not to foul Georgia Tech in the final seconds of a 62-53 loss in Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga put a scare in the ACC school by pulling within two points in the second half. But they never crept closer or took the lead in their final non-conference game of the year.
"We could have played better, but I'm sure they feel the same way," said Omar Wattad, who led the Mocs with 18 points. "We fell short and it's disappointing.
"We knew we could play with this type of team. We knew we have the talent. I wanted to close it out and get the win."
They couldn't quite do it.
"It may boil down to this—we didn't make the open looks," Shulman said. "We missed open look after open look, and if they go in, we've got a real good chance to win this game."
The Mocs shot 37.5 percent from the floor, including 5-of-27 from the 3-point line, and the Mocs had 20 turnovers.
"We were out of sync, and it looked like a game played ... with both teams trying to figure out why we're playing tonight," Shulman said. "We played a lot better than it looks, and it looks bad because the ball didn't go in.
"We played better tonight and battled tonight."
Ricky Taylor scored 13 points. Chris Early had eight rebounds. He did not start or play in the first 10 minutes of the game because Shulman said he needed a slight, "attitude adjustment."
Glen Rice Jr. led all players with 27 points including 8-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line. Iman Shumpert added 19 points including the final two on a break-away dunk and two at the first-half buzzer after he got away with traveling.
"We wanted them to take bad shots," said DeAntre Jefferson who had 14 points and nine rebounds. "But they came through for their team."
The Yellow Jackets slowly built a double-digit lead on UTC as the Mocs went more than seven minutes without a point midway through the first half. But the deficit only grew to 11 points as Georgia Tech could not get a run going.
The Mocs pulled within 26-23 before a Shumpert's runner at the buzzer gave Tech a 28-23 lead at halftime.
Georgia Tech inched ahead by eight just six minutes into the game. Jefferson pulled UTC to within 39-37 on a post move. The Mocs had one possession where they could have tied it or taken the lead. But they turned it over.
It was two or three plays and it's a shame we didn't make those plays," Shulman said while rubbing his brow.
Georgia Tech (11-14) pulled away by scoring on seven straight possessions before UTC had to foul and extend the game.
"No doubt this stings and hurts," Shulman said. "But we'll survive."
The Mocs (14-14) will next play at home on Monday against Furman in a Southern Conference game that is being billed as a "Black-Out."
"I wouldn't say we got momentum, because we lost," Jefferson said. "We came in and competed with an ACC team. But we have to get wins.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...