A downward trend continues.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team lost for the fifth time in seven games Sunday by falling 88-84 against UNC Greensboro in the Greensboro Coliseum.
UNCG forward Kyle Cain led all players with 24 points, and he grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots. UNCG guard Tevon Saddler added 13 points and four steals and Kayel Locke had 12 points for the Spartans, who will play on the first day of the Southern Conference tournament in Asheville.
The Mocs (16-13, 10-4) will have a bye in the first round of the tournament, but their seed has yet to be determined and Sunday's loss dropped them into a tie for third place, one-half game behind Elon. UTC does hold tiebreaking advantages over Elon, Wofford and Western Carolina.
Sophomore Casey Jones and senior Zaccheus Mason led UTC with 21 and 19 points and 11 rebounds apiece. Sophomore Gee McGhee added 12 points, and junior Ronrico White scored 11.
"We couldn't sustain our defense to get enough stops," coach Will Wade said as he started a recruiting trip. "We weren't able to dig in and get stops."
UTC broke away and took a 27-17 lead on free throws by Greg Pryor with about eight minutes to go in the first half.
But the Mocs had to deal with foul trouble for their post players. Reserves Martynas Bareika and T.J. Williams each picked up three fouls in the first half, while starter Lance Stokes picked up two before the break.
The Spartans (13-16, 6-8) went on a 17-6 run for a 36-35 lead with about three minutes to go in the half. They built on that and went into halftime with a 42-37 advantage.
UNCG opened that to 46-37, but UTC responded with five straight stops on defense and a 10-0 surged capped by a Jones bucket for a 47-46 lead.
The Spartans made a rally and led 64-53 after a 15-4 run. The Mocs fought back within 69-67 when Mason hit a 3-pointer from the corner on a designed out-of-bounds play. But the Mocs could not pull even in the final minutes.
Two free throws by White got them within 86-84, but UNCG's Jordan Potts hit two free throws and then UTC missed three shots on its next trip downcourt, ending the potential comeback.
"We have to get back to the drawing board," Wade said. "What's not good is giving up 88 points."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP