CHATTANOOGA, Tenn --- The fairy tale ending turned into a nightmare in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's home opener in McKenzie Arena. Austin Peay's Caleb Brown hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 0.2 seconds remaining to thwart Chattanooga's (0-2) comeback bid in a 70-67 thriller.
The loss spoiled a good effort from sophomore Josh Odem (Johnson City, Tenn.). The reserve paced the Mocs with 15 points to go with three assists. He was joined in double figures by Chris Early (Huntington, W. Va.) with 11 and Ricky Taylor (Brownsville, Tenn.) with 10.
Austin Peay's (0-2) Josh Terry led all scorers with 17 points, 12 coming in the second half. Anthony Campbell added 15, all in the first half.
The Govs (2-0) led by as many as seven in the second frame, 45-38, only to see the scrappy Mocs battle back. Consecutive layups by Omar Wattad (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Taylor shaved the advantage to three, 45-42, at 16:42.
The Mocs tied the game at 52-all on a layup by DeAntre Jefferson (Bloomington, Ill.) with 11:08 remaining. Jefferson's put-back at 9:45 gave Chattanooga its first lead since the mid-point of the first stanza, 54-52.
Austin Peay rattled off six straight points on three straight possessions to jump to a 58-54 lead on a Terry jumper. But the Mocs would not roll over.
Keegan Bell (Hazel Green, Ala.) hit a deep three to cut it to one, 58-57, and on UTC's next possession, a Wattad jumper put the Mocs back up 59-58 with 6:44 left. For every Chattanooga punch, the Govs had a counter.
Terry and Tyshawn Edmondson combined to put Peay back up by four, 63-59, with five points in a 23-second stretch. That was matched by four straight points from Early as his three from the left wing knotted the score at 63-all with 3:36 to go.
A Terry layup made it 67-64 with 2:29 left, but the defenses and pressure ratcheted up a couple of notches on both ends of the floor. The drama hit a fever pitch when Wattad nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie it again, 67-67, with 29 seconds to play. That set up Brown's heroics as he hit his three over a hand coming off a ball screen for the win.
Bell scored just three points, but he had a game-high eight assists and two steals. Jefferson led the Mocs' effort on the boards with six. Peay dominated the glass with a 44-32 advantage. John Fraley grabbed 11 of the boards as the Govs had 18 on the offensive end, converting them for 16 points.
Odem's 15 points keyed a strong effort by the Mocs' bench. Chattanooga's reserves scored 30 compared to 17 by their counterparts from Clarksville. In a game that featured 12 lead changes and seven ties, it came down to who had the ball last.
There is no rest for Chattanooga as it travels to Kennesaw State Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), meeting at the KSU Convocation Center in Kennesaw, Ga. The Owls were an 80-63 winner over visiting Georgia Tech tonight. Live stats and audio can be found on GoMocs.com. Fans can also follow the action at twitter.com/GoMocs.
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