UTC Tops Grand Canyon 69-64 in Dr. Pepper Classic

Faces Maine in Title Game

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

Chattanooga's Z Mason is alive and well and back on the court where he belongs.


Scoring the team's first six points along with three rebounds in the first 2:35, the 6-6 senior from Nashville guided the Mocs to a 69-64 win against Grand Canyon College (Ariz.) in the first day of the 24th annual Dr. Pepper Classic at McKenzie ArenaSunday night.


Playing in his first game in three weeks due to a toe injury, Mason recorded his third double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds) of the season to lead the Mocs in both categories, plus a game-high four blocks.


Dr. Pepper Finals:  Monday Dec. 30   7 p.m. - UTC vs. Maine


Maine defeated Middle Tenn. 89-85 in overtime in the first game of the night.


"Having missed three weeks due to an injury, I wanted to be aggressive early and hit the lane hard," said Mason. "The toe did not bother me at all and I felt great on the court."


UTC coach Will Wade is also glad to have Mason back.


"We really, really have missed him in the rebounding effort as he did a good job on the glass tonight," said Wade.


The Mocs (5-8) advance to the finals of the tournament for the 23rd time and have won the last two tourneys and four of the last five.


The only year in which UTC did not play for the title was 1997, losing to UNCG, 78-70, in the opener.


Also scoring in double figures for the Mocs were Ronrico White (11) and Lance Stokes and Martynas Bareika with 10 each.


For Grand Canyon (5-7), Killian Larson (22 points/13 rebs) and Daniel Alexander (12 pts./10 rebs) also had double-doubles on the night.


The Mocs led by as many as 13 in the first half (9:56) and by four at intermission (36-32).


UTC scored the first four points of the second half to lead by eight at 40-32 (18:52), but the visitors went on a 15-5 run to take their first lead of the night at 47-45 (13:42) on a 3-pointer by Jerome Garrison.


The Mocs regained the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Bareika at 11:29 (51-49).


"I am proud of our guys for battling back when we went down by two," said coach Wade. "This was a good win for us."


"Basketball is a game of runs and we responded well after the made a run at us and took the lead in the second half," stated Ronrico White who had 11 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal.



Rebounding: UTC, 41-40


FG%: UTC, 39.7%-36.4%

FT%: Grand Canyon, 82.6%-75.0%

3-Pt. FG%: UTC, 21.1% - 20.0%


UTC 69, Grand Canyon 64

Grand Canyon   32 - 32 -- 64

UTC  36 - 33 -- 69


Records: UTC (5-8), Grand Canyon (5-7)



contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

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