The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team got off to a hot start Saturday against The Citadel but ultimately lost 110-101 in overtime at McAlister Fieldhouse in Charleston, S.C.
It was the Bulldogs' first Southern Conference win of the season, while the Mocs fell to 6-12 overall and 0-5 in the league. UTC will play Monday at 7 p.m. in Macon, Ga., against Mercer — a preseason league favorite that Saturday blew out Samford for its first conference win.
Still playing with just seven players, the Mocs were 11-for-20 in the first half from 3-point range and held a 53-41 lead over the fast-paced Bulldogs, but as the game wore on, the tempo started to wear on the visitors. UTC maintained an advantage for most of the second half, until a three-point play by Rob Johnson with 4:12 remaining put The Citadel up 83-82.
The Bulldogs led by as many as five points down the stretch and 93-89 with 1:03 to play, but the Mocs got two free throws each from Nat Dixon and Rodney Chatman — the latter's coming with nine seconds to play — to force overtime.
UTC was 3-for-10 from the field in overtime, while The Citadel was 5-for-7 and never trailed in the extra period. Zane Najdawi gave the home team the lead 37 seconds into it, and the Bulldogs went up by 10 in posting their sixth win of the season.
Najdawi scored 37 points while Matt Frierson had 31 for The Citadel. Najdawi shot 15-of-17 from the field while Frierson did his damage from long range, making half of his 18 3-point attempts. Kaelon Harris scored 14 points while Frankie Johnson had nine points, eight assists and three steals.
"We have to get stops," UTC coach Lamont Paris said on the postgame radio broadcast. "We broke our rules sometimes. They also had some timely offensive rebounds. We just broke our rules defensively. The days of doing that need to be in the past if we want to have any success. We have to develop into competitors that, when it's not always perfect and you go into overtime, you can't wait to get out there, can't wait to compete.
"Cooler heads prevail. We preach that, and it's hard to do in the heat of the battle. It's very difficult. That's something we need to work on."
Makale Foreman scored a career-high 30 points for the Mocs while matching a career best with six 3s made. The team made 17 3s, a season high. Dixon finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Chatman contributed 19 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, a pair of blocks and two steals.
Jean-Baptiste played all 45 minutes. Chatman did not come out until fouling out with 16 seconds to play. Dixon logged 44 minutes and Foreman 39. It was Dixon's 14th game with at least 35 minutes and Foreman's 10th.
Joshua Phillips addd with eight points before fouling out late in regulation. Jonathan Bryant had his most productive game against a Division I opponent, finishing with eight points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes.
"They did have an advantage down low (with Najdawi) and exploited it on us," Foreman said on the postgame broadcast. "They played a great game today, too. We have to move on and get ready for Mercer on Monday. It can hurt for a little bit, and then we'll learn from the mistakes and try to fix them."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.