BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A simple swat gave the Mocs a second shot — maybe one they didn't deserve.
Samford prevailed 92-85 in overtime over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Southern Conference men's basketball Saturday night in the Pete Hanna Center.
UTC senior Zaccheus Mason scored on a backdoor layup to tie the game at 77 with 31 seconds to play. Then he blocked a post move from Tim Williams with four seconds left, sending the Mocs into overtime for the first time this season.
But the host Bulldogs (11-15, 5-6) scored the first five points of the extra session and beat UTC's press on consecutive trips to grab control again.
"We just got out-toughed," Mocs coach Will Wade said. "We got blistered in the paint. We got blistered on the glass."
Those aren't characteristics that propelled his team on a 10-game win streak. UTC (15-11, 9-2) has lost two games in a row and three of its last four.
UTC dropped from a tie for first place with Davidson to sole possession of second place in the SoCon.
"What happened is we're too soft," Wade said. "I've been giving them two days off a week, letting them do all this stuff. We're going back to doing it my way. We've tried it their way.
"We've been slipping for a couple games."
Sophomore guard Gee McGhee led UTC with a season-high 21 points. Ronrico White scored 19 and Martynas Bareika added 13, including three 3-point baskets. Casey Jones scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Mason had nine points with 10 rebounds.
"They took this game from us," said White, who had a career-high nine assists. "They got it. We have to get our hungry back. We have to grind out games like this. They took this one."
Samford sophomore forward Tim Williams bruised his way to a team-high 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds. Guard Isaiah Williams added 20 points while Tyler Hood tallied 14.
"We took care of the ball and we rebounded," Samford coach Bennie Seltzer said. "Our guys did a good job defensively and on the boards."
It didn't start that way. UTC played its style for much of the first half and had a 10-point lead at one point.
A 10-0 spurt gave UTC a 17-10 lead and forced Seltzer to call for time. The Bulldogs rallied and pulled within 24-20. A 3-pointer by Bareika and a three-point play by Lance Stokes pushed UTC's lead to 30-20.
But the series of spurts continued with Samford pulling within 36-31 before the Teams of Tomorrow children's dribbling squad provided halftime entertainment.
Facing Samford's zone defense for the first 20 minutes, the Mocs shot 14-of-35 from the floor including an important 6-of-13 from behind the 3-point line.
Samford began attacking UTC's full-court press and tied the game for the first time of the second half at 46. With a 13-5 run, Samford pushed its lead to eight points.
The Mocs forced overtime by closing regulation on a 10-4 run, forcing two turnovers in the final two minutes. But Samford opened the overtime with an 11-3 run to pull away.
"We're going to practice tomorrow," Wade said. "That's what we're going to do. We're going to practice tomorrow and get tougher and figure out how to win."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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 ...