Chattanooga Mocs fall short against Cougars

Chattanooga Mocs fall short against Cougars

February 10th, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Ronrico White of UTC, left,fights for a rebound against Trent Wiedeman of the College of Charleston Saturday at McKenzie Arena.

Photo by Jay Bailey/Times Free Press.

The Legends Weekend sticker on the floor in McKenzie Arena is supposed to be for decoration only.

Yet that's the location where University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sophomore Ronrico White launched the final shot. He had to.

The Mocs fell 71-68 to the College of Charleston when White's last-second heave from about 60 feet missed its mark.

"There's a lot of pressure with the legends coming in," UTC coach John Shulman said. "I think our team did itself good. If they're one of the better teams in our league, I don't think we're far behind."

Zaccheus Mason showed he can be one of the best players in the Southern Conference. The junior forward set a career high with 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including 4-of-9 from behind the arc.

Freshman Gee McGhee followed a 22-point night Thursday in an 89-76 win with a 20-point game. Drazen Zlovaric added 15 points.

The Mocs combined to make six of 16 free throws while the Cougars hit 16 of 21.

"There's no sense in going to Asheville [for the conference tournament] if you don't think you can beat one of the best teams," Shulman said. "We needed to show ourselves something tonight. We had to risk it all, or we would have been obliterated.

"I know it's an 'L.' You can go by the W's and L's -- I'm not."

The game had a much different tone and flow than the first matchup of the season -- an 86-59 whipping of the Mocs in Charleston. This could have been played in the Asheville (N.C.) Civic Center.

"It was an out-of-body experience when we played them at our place," Charleston coach Doug Wojcik said. "[Saturday] was a really good college basketball game. I thought John had his team prepared to play. It's a really hard-fought win."

The Cougars (18-7, 10-3) were led by 16 points from Trent Wiedeman. Senior guard Andrew Lawrence, who played in the Olympics for Great Britain, scored 13 and controlled the final minutes while Anthony Stitt added 13 points as well.

"My two guards played as well as you can play a college basketball game," Wojcik said. "I thought we handed the press extremely well."

Charleston led 36-35 at halftime following White's 40-footer at the buzzer that hit off the back rim.

The Mocs stayed almost step-for-step with the Cougars, unlike the first meeting, when Charleston burst to a 20-2 lead. The Cougars had their alumni weekend against the Mocs.

UTC almost reversed the outcome for its past players who lined the court from basket to basket at intermission.

"I have a history with those guys," said Shulman, who was an assistant coach at East Tennessee State. "It was great seeing those guys, and I appreciate them coming back and how proud they are of Chattanooga."

Mason gave the Mocs their first lead of the second half, 54-53, when he buried a 3 from the right wing as the shot clock ticked down after a broken play. The lead lasted less than 20 seconds as the Cougars' Willis Hall hit two free throws on the next possession.

Yet the Mocs did not wilt away. They traded blows with the Cougars with McGee driving the lane and Mason and Zlovaric working in the post while the Cougars turned to Stitt and Hall.

But Mason did not score after giving UTC a 54-53 lead with 12:55 to play.

"My legs were gone," he said. "But I tried to be effective on the defensive end."

Wideman gave Charleston a 68-63 lead with 1:53 to go. White missed a difficult drive but Lawrence missed a free throw. White responded by hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

Both teams exchanged turnovers resulting in Nori Johnson hitting two free throws for a 70-66 lead with 31.6 seconds to go. McGhee hit a putback with 16.4 ticks to tock. The Mocs couldn't foul until they grabbed Lawrence with 1.4 seconds left. He hit one of two free throws, leaving UTC just over a second for a miracle shot.

It missed the mark.