The Chattanooga Mocs are now at .500 for the first time this season after Sunday afternoon’s 64-50 victory over the North Carolina-Charlotte 49ers.
Progress has been slow at times for the youngest team in the NCAA, but the Mocs played much better in the first half than they did in the first and were rewarded with a 14-point victory after being tied at halftime.
“We had one stretch where we had four straight turnovers, but we did a much better job of taking care of the ball in the second half,” said first-year Chattanooga coach Lamont Paris after his team won its fifth game.
“We did a much better job in the second half and made better decisions. There are going to be some ups and downs with such a young team, but we were able to make some timely shots in the seonc half and only had four turnovers after the break, so I’m happy with our progress.
“It was a good team effort overall. We stuck with our game plan and really didn’t change anything at the half, but we played better and I’m happy about that,” Paris concluded.
Charlotte coach Mark Price, the former Georgia Tech great who has been the leader of the 49ers for the past three years, felt like his team’s defense played a big role in his team’s drawing even at the half.
“We got off to a slow start offensively and they shot it really well at the beginning,” said Price afterward.
“Our defense got us back in the game at the half and I felt good about that,” he added.
The 49ers had leads of 2-0, 5-2 and 9-7 in the early going, but James Lewis canned a jumper from the wing to knot the score at 9-9 with 16:36 left in the first half.
The Mocs went on to score 16 of the next 18 points and had a comfortable advantage of 25-11 following a 3 by Makale Foreman with 6:17 left in the first.
That’s when the Mocs went cold and the 49ers started their comeback.
Rodney Chatman’s four free throws were the only points for UTC the rest of the half while the 49ers finished the half on an 18-4 run to draw even at 29 after Ryan Murphy bagged a jumper from the key with three seconds to play.
Charlotte scored the first four points of the second half and even had a 40-38 lead following a 3 by Jon Davis with 11:20 to play, but David Jean-Baptiste countered with a 3 of his own 70 seconds later and the Mocs never trailed again.
Chattanooga’s biggest lead of the second half was the final margin of 14 points, that coming after Chatman made the first of two free throws with 57.7 seconds to play.
Chatman scored 23 points to lead the Chattanooga offensive effort while London Makinde finished with 11 points after scoring eight in the first four minutes of the game.
Nat Dixon was next with eight points while Joshua Phillips chipped in with seven. James Lewis Jr. and Jean-Baptiste both had six points.
Hudson Price was tops for Charlotte with 15 points. Murphy was next with a dozen while Luka Vasic had eight.
The Mocs also had a 33-27 rebounding edge as London snagged nine and Lewis eight for the winners. Najee Garvin was tops for the 49ers with six.
The Mocs hit 22 of 53 field goals for 41.5 percent, including seven of 24 from 3-point range for 29.2 percent. Charlotte countered with 20 of 45 from the field for 44.4 percent and seven of 15 from long range for 46.7 percent.
The Mocs sank 13 of 18 free throws for 72.2 percent while the 49ers were good on three of five from the charity stripe for 60 percent.
The Mocs return to action next Sunday with a road trip to Tennessee Tech while Charlotte plays at East Carolina on Monday, Dec. 18.
The Mocs are now 5-5 for the season while Charlotte falls to 3-6 with its fourth straight loss.
UNC-CHARLOTTE (50) – Haslem 6, Davis 5, Ajukwa, Price 15, Murphy 12, Garvin 4, White, McGill, Supica, Vasic 8.
CHATTANOOGA (64) – Lewis 6, London 11, Foreman 3, Chatman 23, Dixon 8, Phillips 7, Jean-Baptiste 6.
3-POINT GOALS: Charlotte 7-15 (Davis 1-3, Ajukwa 0-2, Price 2-2, Murphy 2-4, White 0-1, McGill 0-1, Vasic 2-2); Chattanooga 7-24 (London 2-6, Foreman 1-3, Chatman 2-7, Dixon 1-5, Jean-Baptiste 1-3).
REBOUNDS: Charlotte 27, Chattanooga 33.
TURNOVERS: Charlotte 20, Chattanooga 14.
ASSISTS: Charlotte 10, Chattanooga 12.
HALFTIME SCORE: Game tied at 29.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)