The Chattanooga Mocs (4-8) competed for 40 minutes against a hot UAB (9-2) squad losing 67-52 in Bartow Arena Wednesday night. The undermanned Mocs playing without leading scorer Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.) kept it close for a majority of both halves before succumbing to one of Conference USA’s favorites.
“We played one of our better games tonight,” Head Coach Will Wade noted. “I was proud of our guys because we competed for 40 minutes for the first time in a while. We competed hard and played well.
“It is certainly something we can build on,” he continued. “UAB is a tremendous team with unbelievable athletes. Our guys competed and that’s all we can ask.”
It was a nip-and-tuck affair early. Eric Robertson (Huntsville, Ala.) kept the pendulum swinging with a three-pointer at 9:21 for a 19-17 Mocs lead. Jordan Swing immediately answered for the Blazers with a three of his own to put his team back up 20-19.
Chattanooga scored six points on back-to-back possessions. Lance Stokes (Orlando, Fla.) turned in the traditional three-point play with a power post move drawing a foul from Fahro Alihodzic. Greg Pryor (Memphis, Tenn.) drained a trey 34 seconds later putting the Mocs up 25-20 with 7:48 remaining in the opening frame.
It was all UAB from there. Chad Frazier’s layup at 4:57 was the eighth, and final, lead change of the game. The Blazers ended the first half on a 15-2 run for a 35-27 halftime lead.
UAB got off to a fast start after the break. Its lead swelled to 13, 46-36, on two Alihodzic free tosses at 13:39. The Mocs would not break.
Back-to-back baskets by Robertson jump-started an 11-2 run. Consecutive threes from Alex Bran (Memphis, Tenn.) capped it to cut the margin to four, 48-44, with 11:14 remaining. But it was as close as it would get.
It was a nine-point game with 3:24 to go after a Gee McGhee (Baton Rouge, La.) free throw. The Blazers scored nine unanswered points before Martynas Bareika (Kedainiai, Lithuania) drained a trey for the final score of 67-52.
Chattanooga opened the game making four of its first eight three-point attempts. It went four of 22 from beyond the arc the rest of the way.
“We got squared to the basket better,” Wade added. “We had some wide-open three’s, but we have to be able to stick them.
“We had some good looks where we could have built our lead and stopped some runs, but we have to keep working on our shooting and get better there.”
UAB was dominant on the glass. It out-boarded the Mocs 46-30. It had a 32-13 advantage on points in the paint utilizing a decided size advantage.
The Mocs head home for the holidays. They return to the Scenic City December 29-30 for the Dr Pepper Classic taking on Grand Canyon on day one. Maine and Middle Tennessee open the event. Game times are 4:30 and 7 p.m. (ET) each day.
Chattanooga can be listened to live on ESPN 105.1 FM the Zone in Chattanooga, or go to the men’s basketball schedule page on GoMocs.com for links to video (ppv), audio (free) and live stats. You can follow @GoMocsMBB on twitter for live updates as well.