Dontay Hampton took a foot to the belly and suffered a cut on his head after crashing to the court.
And his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball team took another punch to the gut in a season of body blows.
UNC Greensboro edged the Mocs 77-76 on Saturday before a season-high 5,166 in McKenzie Arena.
The Mocs led by four points with 90 seconds to play in the Southern Conference game, but UNCG sophomore guard Trevis Simpson buried a 3-pointer falling away on the left wing. Then Aloysius Henry hit two free throws and Derrell Armstrong scored on a layup to give UNCG a lead with 16 seconds to go.
"You score enough and you can't get a stop," UTC coach John Shulman said. "Sooner or later you have to get a stop. You've got to get a stop -- period."
The Mocs came down the floor and tried a high ball screen for point guard Keegan Bell. The Spartans sniffed it out.
Ricky Taylor gave a pump-fake and missed an open 16-foot jumper, and Bell missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game.
"It's another disappointment," Taylor said. "We have to put nails in the coffins. We let one slip again. It's a heart-breaker again."
The Mocs (10-17, 4-10) are 2-5 in games decided by three points or less and were mathematically eliminated from the possibility of earning a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
"I'm sick," Shulman said. "How can you not be sick and tired and disappointed?"
Drazen Zlovaric scored a career-high 22 points for UTC. Omar Wattad scored 15 points, Taylor had 12 and Jahmal Burroughs scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Simpson led the North Division's first-place Spartans (11-15, 9-5) with 28 points. Kyle Randall scored 11 points and Armstrong tallied 10, including the game-winning bucket.
"I feel comfortable knowing we've got two guys in Simpson and Armstrong who thrive in that moment," UNCG coach Wes Miller said. "We get up in the second half and Chattanooga keeps fighting. They go up on us and we keep fighting. Both teams deserved to win the game."
UTC expanded its early lead to 18-7 on a bucket by Zlovaric. But a few minutes later, UNCG went on a 17-4 run to take a 28-26 edge in what became a physical first half.
Hampton fell in the paint while going for a rebound and had a Spartan step on his midsection. With 9:19 to go in the half, he sprinted out on a fastbreak only to have Simpson crash into him.
They both fell to the floor with Hampton suffering a cut above his right eye. Hampton headed directly to the locker room with athletic trainer B.J. Leyser, much as Wattad against Wofford did earlier this season.
"He had four stitches in his head. He felt light-headed and nauseous," Shulman said.
After UNCG took its first lead of the half, UTC responded and led by three points on two occasions in the final three minutes before halftime. But Randall closed the half with two 3-pointers to give the Spartans a 38-37 lead at the break.
The Mocs started the second half with two turnovers and two missed shots. UNCG started with seven points from Simpson and was up by 10 less than four minutes into the second half.
UTC trailed 61-52 with nine minutes to play. Then it went on a 14-2 run with Zlovaric scoring six in the spurt to give UTC a 66-63 lead and force Miller to call time out with 4:20 to go.
The Spartans scored on six of their next eight possessions, including the final five times they had the ball. UTC came away empty on its last two possessions.
"We made enough plays to win the game," Shulman said. "We didn't make enough stops to win the game."
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 ...