RENO, Nev.---The Chattanooga Mocs (2-3) led for a majority of the game, but Nevada (3-2) got the play of the game to claim an 83-81 win over the visitors from the Scenic City. Wolf Pack guard Deonte Burton banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the Mocs to Los Angeles with the loss.
“It’s disappointing to lose,” Head Coach Will Wade said. “But like I told our guys, we are doing things the right way and we prepared well. This is the best team we’ve played all year – by far – and we played our best game. We played really well but didn’t make a play there near the end. The kid banked in a 25-footer.
“There are certain things we could have done better, but one thing I am proud of is our execution down the stretch,” he added. “It was much better today than it was against Kennesaw, and we ran the same plays today that we ran against Kennesaw. We just keep improving and I am proud of our guys.”
It was a nail-biter to the finish. There were two ties and eight lead changes in the final minutes of the contest. Burton’s free throw with 46 seconds left made it 80-78 Wolf Pack.
Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.) drained a three-pointer with 23 seconds remaining to put the Mocs up one, 81-80. It was a wild finish from there.
Burton dribbled the ball off his leg with 14 ticks left. Greg Pryor (Memphis, Tenn.) hit the floor, collected the loose ball and called timeout. The Mocs struggled to get the ball in, however, succumbing to a five-second call.
The Wolf Pack answered with a turnover of his own. Michael Perez drove to the basket but took an extra step to give the ball back to Chattanooga. The Mocs got it deep to Mason who was immediately fouled with around eight seconds to go.
Mason’s free throws were off the mark, but Nevada struggled to get the ball up the floor. With 2.4 remaining, Nevada got the ball to Burton who launched his effort from 25 feet. The buzzer sounded as the ball banked its way in for the win.
“We probably could have been out there a little bit better on that three-pointer,” Wade noted. “We switched up and got caught underneath the screen. It was a well-designed play by Coach (David) Carter, and we were just a half-second late. Lance Stokes was on the ball and within an inch of a deflection, but we are going in the right direction and have to stick with what we’re doing.”
Mason led the Mocs with 24 points and a game-high eight rebounds. He scored 15 of his points in the second half keying his squad down the stretch. Pryor added a season-high 19 points, five assists and three steals.
“We just came up short on a tough shot. I can’t fault our effort or our guys,” he concluded. “We executed very well, got stops and had great plays through adversity. If we can stick with that, it is going to carry over and pay huge dividends to us down the line.”
Burton had a game-high 28 points for the Wolf Pack. He added five assists as Perez (12), Jerry Evans (11) and Marqueze Coleman (10) also scored in double digits.
It was a great start for Chattanooga scoring on its first five possessions. It led by as many as eight in the first half before taking a two-point lead, 41-39, into halftime. Lance Stokes (Orlando, Fla.) made it a seven-point affair, 53-46, on a layup at 13:10.
The Wolf Pack went on a 12-3 run to take their first lead of the game, 58-56, on a layup at 9:56. Mason tied it with two free throws 23 seconds later before Nevada looked to take control of the contest. Its lead swelled to five twice, but the Mocs would not go away. Pryor’s three-point play at 5:14 tied the score at 71-all setting up the chaotic ending.
Chattanooga is off to California. It takes on UCLA at historic Pauley Pavilion Sunday at 10 p.m., Eastern time. The game is on the Pac-12 Networks, which may be available in the Chattanooga area on AT&T U-Verse or Dish Network. Consult your provider for availability. Links to audio (free) and live stats can be accessed on GoMocs.com, and fans can follow @GoMocsMBB on twitter for live updates.GoMocs.com is the official website of the Chattanooga Mocs. The Mocs can also be followed on their official Facebook page or on Twitter. Find out how to join the UTC Mocs Club and support more than 300 student-athletes by clicking here.