Things quickly went downhill after that.
The Bears outscored the Mocs 23-13 in the second period and gradually distanced themselves, pulling away for a 67-44 victory in front of a season-high crowd of 1,574 at Hawkins Arena in Macon, Ga.
The loss snaps the Mocs' 52-game Southern Conference regular-season win streak, and they will be back on the road Saturday to play Samford at 3 p.m. EST in Birmingham, Ala.
"We just didn't compete at the level we needed to tonight," UTC coach Jim Foster said on the postgame radio broadcast. "That's for us to figure out by Saturday."
The Bears were 10-for-13 from the floor in the decisive second quarter and turned four turnovers into 10 points.
Mercer sophomore Kahlia Lawrence finished with a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds. She made 11 of her 22 shots while adding three assists.
"Lawrence is the toughest kid in the league to guard," Foster said. "She has a terrific midrange game; she gets to a stop; she's a very good player. A very heady player."
The Bears shot 46 percent from the field for the game, compared to 37 percent for the Mocs. UTC was led by Keiana Gilbert's 15 points.
"For us to be a good basketball team, Keiana has to be more assertive," Foster said. "She has to take that step. We don't have Chelsey (Shumpert), so it has got to be somebody, and Keiana by far has the best attributes and the ability to do it."
Jasmine Joyner added 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks, while Queen Alford and Aryanna Gilbert each scored eight points. Alicia Payne handed out eight assists.