The Chattanooga Mocs came back from 12 points down to claim an 82-78 win at The Citadel Monday night in McAlister Fieldhouse. Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.) scored 26 of his game-high 30 points in a dominant performance.
“We really challenged Z. coming into tonight,” Head Coach Will Wade said. “In the past, his production dropped in the second game of a back-to-back. He really answered that tonight and got us back in it on both ends of the floor. I’m really proud of how dominant he was in the second half.”
Mason became the first Moc since Ashley Champion in in 11 years (January 2003) to post back-to-back 20-point/10-rebound games. He had 14 boards tonight to go with his SoCon high of 30 points. His third rebound was the 500th of his two-plus year career.
The Mocs even their record at 8-8 and open SoCon play at 2-0. The Bulldogs fall to 4-12, 0-1 in the league. It’s the first SoCon road sweep, the squad topped Furman Saturday, since January of 2008 at Wofford and Furman.
The Citadel led for all but 84 seconds. Matt Van Scyoc’s three-pointer with 18:40 to go in the game gave the Bulldogs their largest advantage of 12, 48-36. Chattanooga began to chip away at that margin.
Mason got his squad within two, 48-46, on a three-point play with 17:03 to go. Ashton Moore extended it back to six, 52-46, with a jumper with 16:11 left.
Mason kept the pressure on. He scored 15 straight points before Eric Robertson (Huntsville, Ala.) finally evened the score at 56-all with a three from the left corner at the 11:51 mark.
Chattanooga could not get over the hump. It had several chances to take its first lead of the game either tying or getting within one of its hosts. Mason made it a one-point affair, 65-64, with a layup at 7:13.
The Bulldogs looked in control with a six-point lead, 75-69, with 3:48, at the final media timeout with Marshall Harris III headed to the free throw line looking to complete the three-point play. His free throw was off the mark and the Mocs responded.
With 1:56 to go, Ronrico White (Knoxville, Tenn.) made the first of two free throws to cut the lead to 76-74. The second caromed off but P.J. Horgan could not grasp the board under duress from Lance Stokes (Orlando, Fla.). The Mocs inbounded the ball and worked it to Martynas Bareika (Kedainiai, Lithuania) on the left wing.
Bareika drained the three-pointer for the first lead of the game, 77-76, with 1:40 to play. Moore pumped faked from three with the shot clock dwindling at the other end drawing a foul. He made both to put the Bulldogs back up by one, 78-77.
“We kept our gloves up and kept battling,” Wade added. “Every time we got close, The Citadel had an answer. What a big shot from Marty (Bareika) at the end.”
Casey Jones (New Orleans, La.) gave the Mocs the lead for good 16 seconds later on a jumper. Greg Pryor’s (Memphis, Tenn.) with just over 17 ticks remaining made it a two-point contest. Chattanooga continued to get stops and Mason iced the game with two free throws with 7.5 left to provide the final margin.
“We were down six at the under four media but kept our gloves up,” Wade concluded. “It wasn’t pretty, but it usually isn’t on the road. We had great response all night and pulled this one out.”
Jones had 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, while White added 13 points, five rebounds and four assists off the bench. Moore led The Citadel with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists, as Brian White posted 20 points and eight boards.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 10 points in the opening 20. Horgan’s layup at 7:28 made it a 30-20 advantage. Ronrico White cut it to five, 39-34, with just 43 seconds to go, but Van Scyoc nailed a three-pointer from the left corner for the 42-34 halftime lead.
It’s back home for Chattanooga this weekend hosting Samford and Wofford. The Bulldogs visit McKenzie Arena Thursday night at 7 p.m., while the Terriers invade Saturday, also a 7 p.m., tipoff. Fans bringing three or more canned food items to the Roundhouse receive a free general admission ticket to Thursday’s matchup with Samford.
The games can be listened to live on ESPN 105.1 FM the Zone in the Scenic City, or go to the men’s basketball schedule page on GoMocs.com for links to video, audio (free) and live stats. You can follow @GoMocsMBB on twitter for live updates as well.