University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach John Shulman invented the big-ball winning-play award as motivation for the Mocs last season.
For every winning play -- an offensive rebound, a made free throw, a forced turnover, for example -- a plastic golf ball was placed into a box. A plaque was given to the guy with the most winning plays.
Monday night, the Mocs got back to winning ways with winning plays. They beat Davidson 78-73 in their last home game of the season.
"We made more winning plays," Shulman said Tuesday. "An extra pass here, a defensive stop and rebound. We showed more hustle getting to the boards, better boxing out. We were more solid and dependable."
Perhaps that's a sign of maturity and experience from a team that celebrated just one player on senior night: Ty Patterson, who scored 20 points.
"I think winning plays come from veterans," Shulman said between watching video of Appalachian State games. "We're learning because we won. When you box out, you earn wins, and when you do the little things, you earn wins. A couple times you may just get lucky, but I don't like relying on luck."
It takes more than luck to accomplish the following: UTC scored at least a free throw on 15 straight possessions, beginning with Ricky Taylor tying the game at 52 until Keegan Bell missed two free throws with 11 seconds to play.
"There's not much time to dwell on last night," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "They shot it well and defended well. They put us on our heels and came away with the victory."
During that second-half stretch, all four of the one-point trips came with UTC ahead by at least 10 points.
"In the back of my mind I always knew that we were going to be a special team," said Mocs sophomore Ricky Taylor, who led all players with 22 points. "Once we all connect for 40 minutes of basketball, we'll be a special team when it comes to (Southern Conference) tournament time."
The Mocs (14-15, 6-10) certainly played one of their three best games of the season. The only other possibilities are the wins over Appalachian State and Western Carolina, whom the Mocs will visit Thursday and Saturday to round out the regular season.
"I think it's one of the best ones," Taylor said of Monday's win. "It's Ty's last (home) game and he's been my roommate for the last two years. This was the best win of the season."
Making plays resulted in the win, as opposed to Saturday's loss at Samford when Patterson missed a box-out and Samford scored on a putback.
"You make two more plays in those games and you win those games," Shulman said. "Last night, we made those plays."
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 ...