published Monday, January 9th, 2012

UTC Mocs finding ways to win

UTC's Ricky Taylor drives against Appalachian State at McKenzie Arena Saturday. Taylor led the Mocs with 19 points.
UTC's Ricky Taylor drives against Appalachian State at McKenzie Arena Saturday. Taylor led the Mocs with 19 points.
Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

John Shulman confessed on the ESPN Radio show Mike & Mike that he celebrated winning the 2005 Southern Conference championship at Waffle House.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga earned a dramatic 65-63 victory over Appalachian State on Saturday when former walk-on Dontay Hampton scored a layup with less than one tick on the clock.

UTC stole a victory in dramatic fashion.

It's one that goes down in recent regular-season lore with the "Chris Early to Jeremy Saffore to Keegan Bell for 3" win over The Citadel two seasons ago.

That was the Mocs' last dramatic buzzer-beater at home until Saturday night.

The sun rose -- albeit concealed by clouds and fog -- in the Scenic City on Sunday. And Shulman declined the temptation to order hash browns scattered, smothered and covered.

"That was a big win, but Waffle House is championship eating," Shulman texted Sunday. "This was a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit win -- homemade."

The Mocs last two wins have been made from scratch as well. They beat Western Carolina 78-62 on Thursday by finishing the game on a 20-2 run fueled by defensive stops.

UTC then held ASU to six points in the final nine mutes as the Mocs erased a 12-point deficit to win in the last second.

"We fought with passion and intensity," senior Ricky Taylor said. "We didn't give up. We kept batting to the end. I'm very proud for not giving up.

"We struggled offensively, defensively and on the boards. But there's something about Chattanooga pride."

Taylor led the Mocs with 19 points despite a wrist injury that required a warm paraffin wax dipping treatment -- often used for the hands of hockey players -- administered by trainer B.J. Leyser.

The Mocs also overcame the absence of starting small forward Omar Wattad who had an injured back and averaged 13.1 points per game.

Trying to help make up for the offensive absence, point guard Keegan Bell attempted 11 shots in the first 38 minutes with none of them falling through the net. But he hit a 3-pointer with two minutes to go that pulled UTC within two points.

UTC couldn't have pulled that close if not for Shulman deciding to call for a trapping defense that trapped the Mountaineers into turnovers or quick shots, even when the Mocs attempted to foul.

"It's on us," ASU coach Jason Capel said. "If we execute, we win. Chattanooga made the winning plays. And Bell, for a guy that had a rough night, when it was time for him to make a big shot, he made it."

Then Zaccheus Mason became the focal point for a few seconds. Mason, who entered the game shooting 66.7 percent from the free throw line, hit two to tie the game.

He remained in the spotlight on the defensive end as he drew the one-on-one defensive matchup against preseason player of the year Omar Carter who could have won the game for App State. But Carter launched a dud of a 3-pointer that fell in the waiting hands of Hampton.

"I didn't think [Mason] could move like that," teammate Jahmal Burroughs said. "We call him 'Buffalo' because he's a big, strong guy. It was good to see him move like that."

It's also good for Shulman to get a hearty breakfast -- at Waffle House or his house.

about David Uchiyama...

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 ...

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