The Chattanooga Mocs ended a solid first season under Will Wade’s tutelage with a 79-66 loss at East Tennessee State Tuesday night in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. It was also the end of a sparkling career for Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.).
Mason’s final stat line is not a shock with a double-double. He tallied 12 points, a career-high-tying 15 rebounds and five blocks.
“Z. was tremendous for us this year,” Wade noted. “We didn’t have him for two games, and you wanted to hide the children watching us play. Without him, we were not a very good basketball team.
“I’m proud of his effort and know he has big things ahead for him.”
Mason’s five swats gives him 92 on the season, bypassing Neil Ashby’s 89 in 2002 for a new school record. His 9.7 rebound average is also a school record for a campaign and his 300 total boards ties Lance Fulse for second in a season.
“It was a very memorable year,” the senior big man stated. “The CPA (Christ Presbyterian Academy) kids coming out and supporting me, and the standing ovation from the crowd on senior night was a great feeling. The students and the fans that came out and supported us all year made it very memorable.
“I enjoyed it and thanks to everyone who supported me in my career at Chattanooga.”
Jalen Riley came off the bench to lead the Buccaneers with 23 points. He was joined in double digits by Rashawn Rembert (17), Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (12) and A.J. Merriweather (11). Hunter Harris chipped in a team-high 12 rebounds.
Martynas Bareika (Kedainiai, Lithuania) led the Mocs with 15 points. Casey Jones (New Orleans, La.) added 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Eric Robertson (Huntsville, Ala.) netted 11.
The Bucs led by 13, 54-41, on a Riley layup at 11:33. Jones answered 10 seconds later with a layup on a nice feed from Greg Pryor (Memphis, Tenn.) who tied his career high with six assists.
Jones kick-started a 10-0 run for the Mocs. Robertson capped it with a three-pointer from the right corner at 9:32 as Chattanooga scored on four possessions in less than two minutes to shave the lead to three, 54-51.
That’s as close as it would get for the Scenic City squad. The Mocs made just one shot over the next four-plus opening the door for the Bucs to regain control of the game.
Chattanooga struggled to shoot the ball all night. It managed just 31.4 percent making 22 of 70 shots. That included a 10-31 performance beyond the arc, 32.3 percent. The host Bucs shot 45.8 percent (27-59).
The Mocs end their season at 18-15. It is the most wins since the 2008-09 campaign (18-17) and best winning percentage since 2007-08 (18-13). Tonight was the program’s 20th postseason appearance, but the first in the CIT.