BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team had no answer for Samford's Drew Windler on Saturday at the Hanna Center.
The 6-foot-9 big man buried the Mocs with five 3-pointers and a season-high 25 points to lead Samford to an 81-70 win -- the Bulldogs' first in Southern Conference play this season.
"On the road you've got to make every little play, every little play, and we did not make every little play," Mocs coach John Shulman said. "Our effort was good -- we had 18 offensive rebounds -- so our effort was good. It was just little plays, a box-out here and a box-out there."
Samford had lost its first four SoCon games by an average of just over six points, so "they'd been close" to getting that first win, Shulman said.
The Mocs (9-10, 3-3) found themselves in a big first-half hole following a drought of nearly six minutes. Samford (4-12, 1-4) led 44-32 at halftime and maintained the double-digit advantage for the first five minutes of the second.
With 15:09 to play and Samford up 48-38, Shulman sent in Dontay Hampton, who proceeded to hit three 3s in less than two minutes.
"I thought that was going to be a big swing," said Hampton, who finished with 11 points and four rebounds. "I thought we would get over the hump after that."
Omar Wattad, who led UTC with 17 points, was fouled on a 3-point attempt for the second time in the game and hit two of three free throws to give the Mocs their first lead, 49-48, since early in the game.
That lead lasted all of 27 seconds. Samford's Tyler Hood buried a shot from the top of the key to put the Bulldogs back in front, 51-49, with 12:05 remaining.
"I thought when we went up [the momentum would change], but give them credit. They stuck in a 3," Shulman said. "If they miss that and we go up three or four, it's a different thing."
The Mocs stayed close during the next 10 minutes but could never regain the lead or put enough stops together. The Bulldogs led 61-60 when Windler hit his fifth 3 of the game for a four-point margin with 4:26 remaining.
"He made us pay," Hampton said.
Samford then sealed the victory by making eight straight free throws in the final 1:10. The Bulldogs made UTC pay for its turnovers (15) and fouls (23). They outscored the Mocs 23-15 in points off turnovers and finished 22-of-24 from the line.
"I think the thing that really hurt us was just our fouling," said Mocs point guard Keegan Bell, who played all 40 minutes and had nine points, five assists and five turnovers. "Every time we've fouled a lot, we've been a bad basketball team or had a loss. That's the biggest thing that we can learn from this."
Samford's Raijon Kelly was one of the punishers. He came into the game shooting 45.5 percent from the line and went 8-for-8, finishing with 19 points -- nearly 13 above his average.
The Mocs are back on the road Thursday against UNC Greensboro.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...