Four Southern Conference teams beat the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team this season, and all four losses unfolded nearly the exact same way. In all four the Lady Mocs rallied from double-digit second-half deficits, only to come up short at the end.
"I don't know what it is, why we do that," senior Erin Ogan said of starting slow and getting behind early.
It happened on Jan. 3 at Georgia Southern, on Feb. 14 at Davidson, at home against Western Carolina on Feb. 21, and again Sunday against the College of Charleston in the semifinals of the SoCon tournament.
The Lady Mocs will return to practice Saturday, their first since Sunday's semifinal loss in the Southern Conference tournament, and will find out who they're playing, and where, in the Women's National Invitational Tournament late Monday night after the NCAA tournament bracket is released. The WNIT begins March 18.
The last time UTC played in the WNIT, in 2005, the Lady Mocs beat Villanova in the first round at McKenzie Arena and lost at Kentucky in the second round.
In the tournament against Charleston, UTC had one of its worst shooting performances of the season - the Lady Mocs shot 29.3 percent from the field - and were down 28-19 at the half. The Lady Mocs quickly cut the deficit early in the second half and the game was tied at 38 with 9:38 remaining.
The Cougars, who lost in triple overtime to Western Carolina in the title game, went on a 10-0 run for a 48-38 lead with 5:00 to play, and again UTC rallied. Ogan hit a 3 with 17 seconds left to tie the game at 51, but Deidra Jones got open inside on the ensuing possession and scored the game-winning basket to end UTC's NCAA tournament hopes.
"I'm proud of these kids, they battled from behind all day long and they faced a lot of adversity during the season and fought their hearts out," Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore said afterward - a postgame comment that could have applied to any of UTC's SoCon losses.
Georgia Southern was red-hot from the field, hitting 53.2 percent of shots, including 8 of 12 from 3-point range, and the Eagles closed the first half on a 29-14 run for a 35-27 halftime lead. Georgia Southern led by 12 with 17:17 remaining, but the Lady Mocs rallied and eventually went up 65-64 with 20 seconds left on a Shanara Hollinquest three-point play.
The Eagles answered, snapping UTC's 27-game SoCon win streak on Jamie Navarro's jumper with seven seconds left.
Riding a 10-game win streak, UTC went to Davidson in sole possession of first place. The Wildcats, who lost a close game at UTC on Jan. 17, closed the first half on a 16-4 run for a 42-30 halftime lead.
The Lady Mocs fought back in the second half and led by a point twice in the final five minutes, but trailed 70-67 with five seconds left when Ogan hit a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime. In the extra period Davidson could do no wrong, hitting every field goal and free throw and pulling away for an 89-80 win.
In its loss to Western Carolina, UTC trailed by six at the half and was down 49-37 with 7:56 left. As they did before, the Lady Mocs rallied and cut the lead to two twice in the final five minutes. Down 54-52 with 3.1 seconds left, LaCondra Mason had a chance to tie the game with two free throws, but she missed both and UTC lost by four.
The Lady Mocs went on to beat Samford a week later to capture their 10th consecutive SoCon regular-season title, and because of that they'll play in the Women's National Invitational Tournament next week.