The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga climbed back from an eight-point deficit and was tied with Louisiana Tech with six minutes to play Tuesday night.
But the Mocs never took the lead.
They couldn't get over the hump and own an advantage in the final minutes, so they sustained their fourth loss in six days. The Bulldogs won 71-63 in McKenzie Arena.
"You're seeing young little children out there get better," UTC coach John Shulman said. "It's just disappointing. They deserve better. They deserve positive reinforcement, and we'll have to have real good inner belief in ourselves.
"We're not quite good enough yet, yet, yet."
UTC lost at Kansas on Thursday and then home games against Southeast Missouri, Troy and Louisiana Tech in a sub-region of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
"Sometime or another you have to have some success," Shulman said. "You lose, you can't sleep. They deserve to have success."
Bulldogs sophomore guard Raheem Appleby dominated -- Shulman's word -- the game. He tied a career high with 30 points, including nine in the final six minutes.
After the tie at 58, he hit two free throws and then a floater. UTC's leading scorer, Gee McGhee -- who finished with 19 points -- answered with a tip-in to get UTC within two. Then Appleby buried a 3-pointer. McGhee sank two free throws.
Kenneith Smith, who had 12 points for the Bulldogs, made one freebie. Then UTC's only healthy senior, Drazen Zlovaric, faced a one-and-one. He missed the first free throw, continuing a trend of missed freebies at home. The Mocs shot 58.1 percent from the line in the three home games.
The Mocs made a defensive stop down four with 42 seconds to play. The game essentially ended eight seconds later.
Smith picked the pocket of converted guard Ronrico White and completed a three-point play with 35 seconds left.
"[The final stretch] was a heavyweight bout," said White, who had 10 points. "Both teams were going back and forth. I had some silly turnovers."
White found himself at the free-throw line down seven with 28 seconds to play. He missed the first. Shulman screamed, "Get your head up!" He made the second.
"They're hurting," Shulman said. "They're crushed. They were crushed last night. Surely to goodness something good can happen to us sometime."
Good things were happening for the Mocs in the first half. They led for the first 15 minutes. But the Bulldogs (4-1) closed the half with a 19-10 run and led 42-34 at the break.
Louisiana Tech never led by more than seven in the second half. Sam Watson, who is playing more due to Lance Stokes' broken foot, tied the game at 58 with a post move at the 6:46. UTC survived three straight turnovers.
But they couldn't survive Appleby's late-game heroics.
"I know what our record is," Shulman said. "Can't do nothing about that. I know what I see on the floor and you know what you see on the floor. We're battling our guts out."
Antoine Myers led Troy with 14 points and scored the winning bucket in a 59-56 defeat of Southeast Missouri.
Emil Jones and Hunter Williams added 10 points for the Trojans (3-2). Corey Wilford led the Redhawks with 20 point. Troy led by as many as 13 in the first half and 34-24 at halftime.
Southeast tied the game at 45. Then Troy went on an 11-2 run. But the Redhawks rallied and Wilford tied the game at 56 on a 3 with 37.5 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Myers drove the lane, floated, hit the bucket and drew a foul. He sank the free throw with 6.5 seconds left. Lucas Nutt missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.