Despite cutting an 18-point deficit down to four late in the second half, Chattanooga dropped its sixth straight game Thursday night. Western Carolina hit 15 3-pointers to burry the Mocs and walk away with an 82-76 victory at Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, N.C.
Senior Omar Wattad scored 18 points for UTC, which was without starter Jahmal Burroughs and key reserve Z. Mason, who both sat out with injuries. The Mocs, picked to win the Southern Conference North Division in the preseason, remain winless away from McKenzie Arena and are 9-15 overall and 3-8 in the SoCon. They are now tied with WCU for last in the division.
“We never gave up,” said UTC coach John Shulman. “We battled and battled and battled. We are just undermanned at this moment. We are going to get there. We are going to get all of our troops back and when we do, let’s see how resilient we are.”
After trailing 75-59 with 5:38 left, the Mocs used a 13-1 run to jump back into the game. The Western Carolina lead was down to four with 2:17 left, but would get no closer. The Catamounts (9-14, 3-7) closed out the game by hitting 6 of 8 from the free-throw line to hold on.
The backcourt trio of Brandon Boggs (21 points), Trey Sumier (14) and Keaton Cole (18) combined to fire up 38 of WCU’s school-record 41 3-pointers and finished with 53 of Western Carolina’s 82 points.
UTC seniors Wattad, Keegan Bell and Ricky Taylor, meanwhile, combined to go 9-for-34 from the field and 5-for-25 from 3-point distance. Dontay Hampton, Jared Bryant, Rico White and Drew Baker all gave solid efforts off the bench, while Lance Stokes, starting in place of Burroughs, scored 11 points and pulled down five rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
Western Carolina, which snapped a four-game losing steak, led 45-32 at half.
“I felt like we were the hungrier team, but when you get down in that deficit in the first half it is hard to bounce back,” Bell said. “Especially when you are on the road and down double digits. Still, I thought we did a great job of fighting back. Every time I thought we were fighting back I looked up at the score and we were still trailing by double digits. We made a run at the end and still had a chance to win it.”
The Mocs will bring their six-game losing streak to Davidson on Saturday. The Wildcats are 16-5 overall, 10-1 in the SoCon and 9-1 at home.