The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team experienced the thrill of victory Friday for the first time in a while but might have to deal with the agony of a small defeat.
Four Mocs scored in double figures and the team used a huge first-half run to key a 108-78 victory over Reinhardt in front of an announced attendance of 2,291 at McKenzie Arena.
It was the Mocs' first win in 27 days and breaks a four-game losing streak.
It also makes Christmas dinner a little bit nicer, but UTC coach John Shulman was in a melancholy mood after freshman guard Casey Jones suffered a knee injury 11 seconds into the second half. He didn't return, and since he was leaving with guard Gee McGhee's family immediately after the game and headed to Baton Rouge, La., for the brief holiday break, his status will be unclear until an MRI on Dec. 26.
Martynas Bareika and Drazen Zlovaric each had 20 points to lead UTC (3-8), while Farad Cobb had 14. Walk-on Alex Bran continued his recent standout play with 12 points.
"It's a much nicer feeling to be going home with a win," said McGhee, who had nine points and a career-high seven rebounds. "I hate coming in [to the media room] after the tough ones; I don't know what to say. We had a good game, though."
It wasn't a picture-perfect performance, by any means. UTC committed 21 turnovers, one more than its NAIA Division II opponent, but had 18 offensive rebounds and outscored Reinhardt 24-6 in second-chance points.
The Mocs outrebounded the Eagles 56-26, led by Sam Watson's eight.
The Mocs came in averaging 62.4 points per game but eclipsed that amount in the first minute of the second half. They went on a 31-9 run and led by 27 at the break. The lead peaked at 32 on a tip-in by Ronrico White with 13:54 left in the game.
The 60-point first half was the biggest for the Mocs since scoring 53 against College of Charleston two seasons ago, and their 42 field goals were the first time they've topped 40 since the Reinhardt victory two seasons ago.
"We got up in the first six minutes and didn't let them come back," Bareika said. "Our goal today was to get better. Reinhardt is a running team, and Coach told us we'd have to run this game, so we ran."
Bareika scored on a drive with 1:41 remaining to put the Mocs past 100 points. It was the program's first time over the century mark since scoring 111 against UNC Greensboro on Jan. 27, 2011.
"I thought we came out and had good energy," Shulman said. "Offensively, I didn't think we were capable of scoring 100 points. We have to do a better job of making plays, but I'll take a win.
"After what we've been through, I'll take a win and try to go home and enjoy life for a moment."