By Jason McDaniel, Assistant Sports Editor —
UTC men’s basketball kept the momentum running until late in a 73-55 loss to the Furman Paladins on Wednesday night at McKenzie Arena. The loss extends the Mocs’ losing streak to five games.
The Mocs were limited, with eight total available players that included only five scholarship athletes. With a depleted roster, it was up to Head Coach Lamont Paris to switch up the strategy to earn a win over Furman, and up to the players to execute with effort.
“There’s a lot of factors that go into the equation of winning a basketball game, and effort is a big one,” said Paris. “This was tremendous effort. I don’t think anyone that watched the game would argue that.”
Much of the Mocs’ game streamlined through extraordinary play by junior Nat Dixon, Panama City, Florida, and sophomore Rodney Chatman, Lithonia, Georgia. Dixon scored a career-high 21 points with 12 points in the first half. Dixon gave the Mocs the momentum they had been desperate for all game on the way into the locker room, but UTC was unable to hold onto that in a poor second half performance.
“It’s hard, but I don’t want to make any excuses. We played hard, we tried to win. We still tried to win with only seven people playing,” said Chatman regarding missing multiple players due to injury. “You know it’s tough, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Chatman scored 13 points and had the team-high seven rebounds. Chatman held Furman’s point guard, Devin Sibley, to nine points. Sibley was the SoCon Player of the Year last year and is averaging 15.6 points per game so far this season.
“I said this early on, my evaluation of us will not necessarily be in points versus their points, it’ll be in how we perform and I think the rest will often times take care of itself,” said Paris. “We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Our immediate practices are focusing on us…we spend probably more time than most teams do on what we have to do regardless of who the opponent is…Our team is more important to me than their team.”
With the loss to Furman, UTC falls to 6-11 overall and 0-4 in SoCon play. Furman improves 13-4 overall and 4-0 in the SoCon.
Next up, the Mocs will face off against The Citadel Bulldogs at Benjamin Johnson Arena on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.