STATESBORO, Ga. --- Gee McGhee (Baton Rouge, La.) tied his career high with 19 points but it was not enough as the Chattanooga Mocs (8-14/3-6) lost 59-57 Saturday night at Georgia Southern (10-13/4-6). Chattanooga battled back from 21 down early in the second half to take the lead before falling in the final 15 seconds.
C.J. Reed’s three-point play at 16:13 gave the Eagles a 21-point lead with 16:13. The Mocs’ frigid shooting night took an upswing as the squad slowly chipped away at the mountainous margin.
UTC scored on five of its next seven possessions to cut it to 13, 50-37, on a layup by Jared Bryant (Cincinnati, Ohio). Farad Cobb’s (West Palm Beach, Fla.) free throw at 7:33 got it within 10, 51-42. Drazen Zlovaric (Novi Sad, Serbia) and Cobb scored on back-to-back trips to make it a seven-point game, 53-46 on Cobb’s two at the charity stripe at 6:16.
Reed looked like he hit the dagger shot. His trey at 5:44 made it a 10-point game again, 56-46, but it was the last time the Eagles would find the bottom of the twine for five-and-a-half minutes. The Mocs defense put Hanner Fieldhouse on lockdown as the offense tightened the gap.
It started with two free throws from McGhee followed by a jumper from Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.). After another defensive stop, Cobb’s layup cut it to four, 56-52, with 4:03 to go. It took more than two minutes of clock before it got even closer.
McGhee nailed Chattanooga’s only three-pointer of the contest at 1:48 to make it a one-point game, 56-55. He wasn’t done. On the next offensive set, he drove strong to the basket forcing Reed to foul. He dropped two free throws with 40 ticks remaining for the first UTC lead of the game, 57-56.
GSU went to their money man. With 11.7 seconds to go, Ferguson hit a three-pointer from the top of the key for the 59-57 advantage. It was the first points in more than five minutes for the Eagles. McGhee tried to draw a foul on a three-pointer but his shot missed and the ball went to Georgia Southern.
The Mocs appeared to make a steal on the inbounds play. For a split second, Mason looked to have the ball in the corner but quick hands from the Eagles tipped it away escaping with the win.
Mason joined McGhee in double digits with 14 points and seven rebounds. Zlovaric posted his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. McGhee set new career high with 12 free throws made and 15 attempted.
Reed tied McGhee for game-high honors with 19 points for GSU. He added five assists and four rebounds. Ferguson chipped in 16 points with three steals.
Chattanooga shot just 37 percent (17-46) for the game. It overcame a six-for-26 start (26.1%) by hitting 47.8 percent (11-23) in the final 20 minutes. After starting the game making seven of its 10 attempts, Georgia Southern shot just 34 percent (17-50). It scored 17 in the opening 5:09, 42 over the final 34:51.
The Eagles got off to a hot start as Reed put his team up 17-7 with a jumper at 14:51. McGhee scored four in a row at the free throw line to cut it to six, 17-11, on the next two possessions.
The score was whittled to five, 19-14, on Ronrico White’s (Knoxville) three-point play at 12:44. GSU reeled off a 12-4 run to take its largest lead of the first half, 31-18, on a Kameron Dunnican layup with 5:49 until intermission. It was a 36-23 score at the break as Mason’s layup was just after the buzzer signaling halftime.
Six of the next seven games are at for the Mocs beginning with a five-games-in-10-days stretch. It starts with The Citadel Thursday at 7 p.m. Listen to the play-by-play from "Voice of the Mocs" Jim Reynolds on ESPN 105.1 the Zone in Chattanooga, or world-wide on GoMocs.com. MocsVision has the live video (PPV) and audio (free) action online.
Legends Weekend is Saturday with former Mocs and Lady Mocs stars honored during a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. For tickets, call 266-MOCS (6627) or go online at gomocs.com
and select the tickets tab. UTC celebrates Jim Reynolds’ 1,000 games behind the microphone on Thursday, Feb. 21.