Monday, December 30, 2013
- by B.B. Branton
"Our crowd (2,921) was tremendous tonight and we are so appreciative of the students being here to play in the band which really added to the atmosphere."
-- UTC head coach Will Wade
An energetic crowd, a pep band to get the place hoppin', clutch shooting down the stretch and key defensive stops were all part of a winning formula as the Chattanooga Mocs rallied to defeat the U. of Maine 86-80 in the Dr. Pepper Classic title game Monday night.
"We've been putting in the work with 45 minutes of shooting a day and tonight it paid off," said UTC coach Will Wade.
"We need four guys in double figures to have a chance to win and we had that tonight and last night."
The quartet of Blue and Gold scorers were Ronrico White (20), Casey Jones (20), Gee McGhee (17) and tournament most valuable player Z Mason (15) as Chattanooga won its 16th Dr. Pepper Classic championship.
Shoot the Ball: UTC shot 51.7% for the game from the field, while Maine was at 47.0%. In the second half comeback, UTC shot 58.6% (17-29) from the field and 62.5% (5-8) from 3-point range ... Maine was hot in the first half from long range (55.6&) but cooled off in the final 20 minutes (30.8%) ..
Two scoring runs were key to the win as the Mocs improve to 6-8 on the season and 1,199 wins all-time.
Down 11 ... Up 11: Trailing by 11 (34-23) at 6:41 of the first half, the victors outscored the Black Bears 16-7 to trail by four at half.
Then the Louisiana duo of McGhee (9 pts.) and Jones (10 pts) put the Mocs up by 11 at 58-47 at 14:05 of the second half.
But the Black Bears (2-10) were far from done as they made a run of their own - 21-10 in less than eight minutes to go up one at 69-68 at 6:24, including a pair of 3s from Troy Reid-Knight and another from Dimitry Coronel who led all scorers with 24 points.
But the Mocs countered with a trio of clutch 3s by White in a five minute span and another from Mason for an 83-77 lead with 45 seconds remaining.
Punch .. Counter Punch: After Reid-Knight made his second 3 of the half for the 69-68 lead, White buried his fourth 3, 16 seconds later for a 71-69 advantage at 6:08; an advantage the Mocs would never relinquish. The Bears would go 0-4 for 3s down the stretch.
"I credit my teammates who were able to penetrate into the lane which left me open on the wing and I was able to knock down the 3s," said White.
Maine Opened Hot: The Black Bears hit four 3s in the first eight minutes to lead 19-13 at 12:05 and held its largest lead of the game at 11 (34-23) on Knight-Reid's jumper.
But UTC used 3-pointers of its own to climb back in the game as White (2) and Marty Bareika connected from long distance as the Mocs trailed by four (43-39) at intermission.
Good D - Z Mason had three key defensive rebounds in the final 33 seconds following missed shots by Maine to control the boards and help secure the win.
Double-Double: Gee McGhee had a rare double-double ... pts/assists (17/10)
Four Score and Win: Coach Wade stressed after the game of the importance of having four guys in double figure scoring ...
Mocs are 5-1 with four or more players in double figure scoring ... most is 7 in 119-56 win against Covenant in season-opener on Nov. 8
Next Game: UTC opens Southern Coference play this weekend at Furman (Jan. 4) and The Citadel (Jan.6) ... UTC has won 7 of last 8 games at The Citadel, but has lost 3 of the last four at Furman.
Next Home Game: Thurs Jan 9 vs. Samford
Chattanooga 86, Maine 80
Maine 43 - 37 -- 80
UTC 39 - 47 -- 86
Records: UTC (6-8) Maine (2-10)
24th Dr. Pepper Classic: UTC has won five of the last six titles and 16 overall ...
"We are very appreciative of Coca Cola and what great supporters the company is of our program and has been over the years," said coach Wade.
UTC - **Z Mason (MVP), Ronrico White
MTSU - Shawn Jones
Maine - Shaun Lawton, Dimitry Coronel
Grand Canyon - Killian Larson
** Z Mason was also tournament MVP last year
contact B.B. Branton at William.firstname.lastname@example.org