CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The Citadel got two looks at a tying 3-pointer in the final seconds, but the magic that carried the Bulldogs to wins over Wofford and Furman at home last week did not travel to Chattanooga on Thursday.
Bulldogs Matt Frierson and Frankie Johnson each missed 3-pointers in the last five seconds, and Chattanooga escaped with an 85-82 victory at McKenzie Arena.
Freshman Alex Reed scored 20 points to lead the Bulldogs (9-15, 4-8), who had won two straight and three of their last four games. Zane Najdawi, plagued by early foul trouble, had 14 points, Kaelon Harris 12 and Quayson Williams 10 for the Bulldogs.
Makale Foreman scored 22 points and Makinde London had 16 for the Mocs (9-17, 3-10), who shot 57 percent from the floor and 44 percent from 3-point range against the Bulldogs' zone defenses.
The Citadel shot just 41 percent from the floor, made only 9 of 34 from 3-point range (26.5 percent) and trailed by 13 in the second half.
The Bulldogs, who rallied from 17 down to beat Furman last Saturday, whittled the Mocs' lead to 79-78 on Reed's 3-pointer with 2:21 left, but could not get the stop it needed down the stretch.
Foreman hit a jumper with 1:50 left for the Mocs, and Rodney Chatman made two free throws for a 83-78 lead with 1:29 to play. Harris sank two free throws for the Bulldogs, then hit a rebound basket with 43 seconds left to get the Bulldogs within 83-82.
But The Citadel let Chatman drive for an easy basket with 18 seconds left, giving the Mocs an 85-82 lead.
After a Citadel timeout, Frierson was knocked to the floor as he missed his 3-pointer with five seconds left. The rebound went to Johnson in the corner, but his try at the buzzer rimmed out.
“Matt's not going to shoot many air balls unless he gets fouled,” Citadel coach Duggar Baucom said. “And then Frankie got a good look at it, and it went in and out. But it certainly didn't come down to that last play. We did so many bonehead things.”
The teams combined for 41 fouls and 50 free throws, and each team had a player foul out. Najdawi was saddled with two fouls in the opening minutes and played just 25 minutes.
“There was no flow from the beginning,” Baucom said. “When Zane picked up his second foul two minutes in, that changed the whole direction of the game.”
Reed stepped up to hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range for his 22 points. Johnson had eight points and 11 assists against two turnovers in 35 minutes.
“Frankie played his heart out, and Alex Reed was spectacular,” Baucom said on his post-game radio show. “But an eight-cylinder car can't operate on six cylinders.”
Frierson, the Bulldogs' top 3-point shooter, was just 1 of 9 from distance. Harris, Najdawi and Reed combined to go 18 of 20 from the foul line.
Foreman and Chatman played 40 minutes each for the Mocs, who were without top scorer Nat Dixon. He did not play due to a coach's decision.
The Citadel is at Samford on Saturday, having lost by 107-91 at home to Samford in January.
“They beat the dog out of us at our place,” Baucom said. “It was the worst game we've played all year, and probably their best game of the year. We'll have to play better than we did tonight, that's for sure.”