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Staff file photo by Matt Hamilton / UTC men's basketball coach Lamont Paris said the Mocs put together a "surprisingly poor performance" during Wednesday's road trip to Western Carolina as the Catamounts won 70-59. UTC led 30-26 at halftime but shot 6-for-24 from the field and 2-for-11 from 3-point range in the second half.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team lost 70-59 to Western Carolina on Wednesday night at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

UTC's first Southern Conference loss of the season ended its four-game winning streak.

The Mocs (13-4, 3-1) return to competition Saturday at McKenzie Arena, where they'll host Furman (12-6, 4-1) in a 3 p.m. matchup that will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. The Paladins beat visiting East Tennessee State 78-69 on Wednesday.

UTC played at Western Carolina (8-9, 2-2) without the services of starting guard David Jean-Baptiste. The sixth-year Moc was in attendance Wednesday, but not in uniform.

"Due to student privacy laws, we can not disclose any additional information," UTC said in a released statement.

Without Jean-Baptiste, the offense was a lot of Malachi Smith and a little bit of everyone else.

Smith, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore guard, finished with 33 points and nine rebounds, but no other Moc scored more than Darius Banks' seven points. Silvio De Sousa and Grant Ledford had six each, with De Sousa adding 11 rebounds and three blocks, but UTC shot just 25% from the field in the second half and was 4-for-25 from 3-point range for the game.

"It was just a poor performance, a surprisingly poor performance for us," UTC coach Lamont Paris said. "We were short-handed, then A.J. (Caldwell) did something with his ankle and he was never right the rest of the time, but it was just a poor performance — there's no excusing that away. We played poorly in a lot of ways.

"They're aggressive — aggressive to loose balls, more aggressive, and that was what was most disappointing."

UTC was also challenged by foul trouble. KC Hankton fouled out with just less than six minutes to play, De Sousa fouled out with less than three minutes to play and Josh Ayeni and Banks finished with four fouls each.

Compiled by Gene Henley. Contact him at ghenley@timesfreepress.com.

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