The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball struggled with turnover problems in the second half and lost 74-63 at Eastern Kentucky in a nonconference game Tuesday night.
UTC senior Zaccheus Mason led all scorers with 23 points and he added 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season, but the Mocs (15-10) struggled to hang onto the ball and lost the turnover margin 24-5.
The turnovers negated a decent shooting performance by UTC. The Mocs finished 54.1 percent from the floor but were able to take only 11 shots in the second half, compared to 29 shots by EKU after the intermission.
"The story of the game is we turned the ball over too much," UTC coach Will Wade said on the postgame radio broadcast. "We shot it at a pretty good clip, be we just couldn't get enough shots up there because we turned it over too much."
The first half went back and forth, with the Mocs opening the scoring on a layup by Mason. UTC held its last lead at 36-35 on a bucket by Casey Jones with 3:16 to go in the half. But the Colonels (17-7) closed with a 7-0 run and led 42-35 at the break.
The Mocs cut the deficit to 42-40 on layups by Mason and Gee McGhee at the beginning of the second half, but turnovers and sloppy play allowed EKU to extend the lead from there. The Colonels led by as much as 14 points down the stretch.
The Mocs made a run late, cutting EKU's advantage to 70-63 on a 3-pointer by Martynas Bareika with 2:05 remaining in the game, but the Colonels made the shots they needed to hit down the stretch to secure the win.
Wade was visibly upset by some of the fouls called, particularly some charge calls in the second half, and he picked up his first technical foul of the season with 1:27 remaining in the game.
Bareika finished with 12 points, while Jones had eight points and eight rebounds for the Mocs.
Eastern Kentucky had four players score in double figures, led by Glenn Cosey's 19 points. Corey Walden chipped in 16, Marcus Lewis had 13 and Orlando Williams scored 10 in the win. Both teams shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, but the turnover margin after that helped EKU overcome a 9-for-29 shooting performance in the second half.
UTC returns to Southern Conference play with a game on Samford on Saturday before returning home Feb. 13 to host Western Carolina for the first time this season.
"I was much more encouraged after this road game than our last road game," Wade said, referring to the Mocs' 43-point loss at Davidson on Jan. 30. "We just have to get back home and get ready to go Saturday."
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...