MACON, Ga. -- The swishing switched.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sprinted out to a double-digit lead, but Mercer rallied for a 67-56 men's basketball win Saturday night.
"We didn't bring even half of what we brought against Charleston," UTC point guard Keegan Bell said, referring to a double-overtime loss a week earlier. "It's disappointing as coaches and senior leaders."
Senior guard Omar Wattad led the Mocs with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Ricky Taylor added 11 points and Chris Early grabbed 10 rebounds.
"I'm at a loss for words," Wattad said. "We have to man up. We're 2-7 -- yeah, 2-7 -- I'm so mad."
Langston Hall led Mercer with 15 points and Jakob Gollon added 14 for the Bears (7-3), who were more physical than the Mocs and once tried to eavesdrop on a UTC huddle.
"We did not have the same energy that we had against Charleston," Mocs coach John Shulman said. "We didn't have it, and I knew it, and you got to the point where you hoped Omar would hit every 25-footer."
UTC led 17-4 less than six minutes into the game but cooled off, and Mercer began finding a bit of its offense and tweaking its defense.
"Chattanooga was ready to play and we didn't do a good job on their ball screens early, and that led to open 3s," Mercer coach Bob Hoffman said. "We made an adjustment and started going under the screens."
Mercer crept back to within 30-29 at halftime, which led to some concern for the Mocs.
"Maybe them fighting back in the first half, we went into the locker room a little down and we came out dead," Bell said. "To start the second half, we were not ready to roll."
Mercer gained its first lead of the game in the opening minute of the second half. It took a 38-30 lead after a six-point possession. Bud Thomas hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, and the Mocs' Jahmal Burroughs fouled under basket. Then Hall followed immediately with a 3-pointer.
"It was fun to watch them get back into the game," Hoffman said. "We have mentally tough kids who believe in each other."
The Mocs went 10 minutes and 40 seconds between field goals over a span encompassing halftime, and they trailed 45-30 before a post move from Drazen Zlovaric with 12:08 to go.
The Bears expanded their lead to 17 points with 5:11 to play. The Mocs scrambled to get within eight with just a minute to go.
"Sometimes you feel like you plug one hole and another starts leaking," Shulman said. "We're fragile right now. Mercer is a very confident team. We'll get it figured out."
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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