Smallwood, a 7-foot backup center who averages 6.1 points per game, made all four of his 3-point tries and the Mocs (11-14, 6-6 Southern Conference) made 12 of 30 for 40 percent. Ramon Vila, David Jean-Baptiste and Donovann Toatley scored 11 each for UTC.
SoCon scoring leader Bubba Parham had 21 points for the Keydets (7-16, 1-10). Myles Lewis had 15 points and Sarju Patel added 14.
The Mocs took the lead for good when Smallwood hit a 3-pointer from the right side for a 70-68 lead with 4:25 remaining. Toatley scored UTC's final point when he made the first of two free throws with 3:02 to go. With 17 seconds left, a steal by Lewis set up a fast-break layup for Garrett Gilkeson and VMI was within one at 71-70. UTC's Kevin Easley missed the front end of a one-and-one with 7 seconds left, but VMI's Jake Stephens missed a 3-pointer as time ran out.
Earlier Thursday, VMI extended the contract of coach Dan Earl through the 2021-22 season.