published Monday, January 30th, 2012

UTC Mocs assess losses

It's difficult for the Mocs to explain how they blew a 16-point lead and lost 75-72 to Georgia Southern on Saturday.

Slowly, over a 12-minute stretch the Eagles climbed closer and closer to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before toppling the Mocs with a last-second 3-pointer.

It's easier for the Mocs to describe the pain of their fifth straight loss and third straight loss on the last possession.

"It's, how do you say, a dagger through the heart," said Serbian-born Drazen Zlovaric on Sunday.

Coach John Shulman called it, "A stake through the heart," less than 30 minutes after Jelani Hewitt's 3 from the left wing swished through the net with no time remaining.

Freshman Trey Brown, who watched the game from the bench, simply called it a "Heartbreaker," following the Mocs weight-lifting session on Sunday -- their only team activity of the day.

Different Mocs had different reasons, different accurate assessments, as to how Georgia Southern (9-12, 7-4 SoCon) out-scored UTC by 19 points in the final 12 minutes.

"We made some turnovers, we made some poor decisions here and there," senior Ricky Taylor said. "They made shots. They got momentum, and it was hard to stop their momentum. And they won in the end."

Freshman Lance Stokes, who started in place of injured power forwards Jahmal Burroughs and Zaccheus Mason, said his team just couldn't close it out.

"We had a few mishaps," said Stokes, who had four points and seven rebounds. "We had a few turnovers, a couple plays didn't go our way."

The coaches had opinions too.

"In the second half, we decided to spread the floor, set ball-screens and get it in the paint," GSU coach Charlton Young said. "We forced them to defend and try to throw it in there [to the post] when they were spread out."

Shulman's squad, which at 9-14 and 3-7 in the SoCon resides in last place of the SoCon North Division, would have won if college basketball games were just 30 minutes in length. But they play 40 minutes and sometimes overtime.

"I know we gave up some offensive boards in that time and we had to play small," Shulman said. "They took advantage of it. They drove us and drove us. They beat us."

The Mocs had seven turnovers and shot 5-of-13 from the floor -- including a missed floater by senior Omar Wattad with seven seconds to go and the game tied at 72 -- after they built a 16-point lead with 12 minutes to go.

Meanwhile, GSU had two turnovers and hit 11 of its final 16 shots including the buzzer-beater by Hewitt over the same stretch.

"We got a two-footer [in the final 10 seconds]," Shulman said. "They got a 21-footer. Ours bounces around. Theirs goes in."

That's one way to summarize it.

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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