GSU tops UTC in SoCon opener

GSU tops UTC in SoCon opener

December 2nd, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

STATESBORO, Ga. -- Host Georgia Southern and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga played basketball for 40 minutes Thursday night.

A stretch of 10 seconds encapsulated the evening for the visiting Mocs in an 84-76 Southern Conference loss to the Eagles.

UTC forward Drazen Zlovaric rose for an uncontested two-handed dunk. He missed. Then GSU guard Tre Bussey lined up an uncontested 3-pointer and swished it.

"They're silly things, but they all kind of add up," UTC coach John Shulman said. "Every player made one or two silly things. It's nice that we can clean that up.

"I think you make your own breaks. We're not playing hard enough to get those breaks."

The Mocs opened their conference season with a loss and have lost five of their six games against Division I competition this season by an average of more than 10 points.

"It's been tough," reserve point guard Dontay Hampton said. "We have to get that grit. I can't explain it. It's like an 'It' factor. Like getting a rebound in crucial moment or come up with a 50-50 ball."

The Eagles executed their base drive-and-dish offense, which often resulted in a swish. GSU shot 51.7 percent from the floor, including 11-of-23 from the 3-point line.

"In five of our six games we've shown tremendous growth," GSU coach Charlton Young said. "Our guys are starting to understand that we need to take inside-out 3s. We're making the extra pass and we're sharing the ball."

Young had five players score at least 10 points. Ben Drayton and Jelani Hewitt each scored 20 with Hewitt sinking a career-high six 3-pointers. Eric Ferguson scored 17 points, Busey had 11 and WIllie Powers scored 10.

The Mocs (2-5, 0-1) were led by 16 points from Ricky Taylor, 11 from Zlovaric and 11 from Omar Wattad. They were out-rebounded 35-30 with the Eagles grabbing 13 offensive rebounds and scoring 19 second-chance points.

"It's disappointing," UTC point guard Keegan Bell said. "We didn't finish easy plays. I feel that once our team struggles, then we go ghost-face -- that's when things go wrong or get tough. We get that way as a team.

"We have to snap out of it."

They play Saturday at the College of Charleston, which beat Clemson earlier this season and topped The Citadel on Thursday.

"Mentally, we're just waxed right now," Shulman said on the UTC postgame radio show. "One little mess-up costs you. We had an awful lost of one little mess-ups."

The Mocs led in the early minutes. But once the Eagles went ahead 12-10, they never trailed again. GSU owned a 42-31 lead at the break and led by 16 with four minutes to go before the Mocs scrapped to within six.

"You have to take the good with the bad, and right now we're taking the bad with the bad," Shulman said. "It's not a great way to start. We didn't do enough right things once again."