The Chattanooga Mocs lost a close Southern Converence basketball to Furman at home on Wednesday, so the big question leading to Saturday’s game with Samford was just how well the local team would respond.
The overwhelming answer is: Very well, thank you!
Scoring 64 points in the second half alone, the Mocs improved to 2-2 in the SoCon and 11-6 overall with the 105-67 win over the Bulldogs, the largest margin of victory in a conference game since a 40-point win over The Citadel in 2016.
It was Chattanooga's fifth win in its last six games. Samford falls to 8-10 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
The offense was clicking for the Mocs as they sank 40 of 73 field goal attempts for 54.8 percent and 17 of 31 from long range as the visitors from Birmingham never really had a chance.
Junior Ramon Vila was the ring leader for Chattanooga as he led a quartet of Mocs in double figures with 24 points.
Matt Ryan, who sank six of seven from long range, was next with 20 points while David Jean-Baptiste and Stefan Kenic added 19 and 17 points, respectively, to the winning total.
“He’s been playing really well in recent games and I have a tremendous amount of faith in his offensive ability. He’s capable of creating a lot of havoc for other teams,” Chattanooga coach Lamont Parris said about his 6-8 stud from Barcelona, Spain.
One of the first questions for Paris in his post-game interview was the offensive explosion that was the most points the Mocs have scored all year.
“This may sound crazy, but those 105 points came about by how we defended. We came out in an aggressive mode and that allowed us to get a lot of high-percentage shots.
“Games like this don’t happen very often in this league, but I was blown away by our response to Wednesday’s loss. I urged them to shoot it if they had an open shot and we walked about being confident in what we were trying to do.
“This just might be an indication of what this team is capable of doing. I have a lot of faith in them, but we have a lot of weapons and a bunch of guys who can score,” Paris added.
Jalen Dupree scored on an inside turn-around move to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead some 24 seconds into the game, but that was Samford’s only lead as the Mocs scored 23 of the next 28 points for a 23-7 lead following the second of two 3s by Kenic with 11:51 left in the first half.
Chattanooga’s biggest lead in the opening 20 minutes was 23 points on two occasions, the last at 38-15 after a drive down the lane by Jean-Baptiste with 5:40 remaining in the opening half.
Samford finished the half on a 15-3 run and trailed by only 41-30 at intermission.
Ryan opened the second half with a 3 from the wing and the Mocs used a 13-3 run for a 54-33 lead with 16:53 to play.
It never got any closer as Chattanooga continued to pull away, keeping the pedal to the metal by sinking 10 of 15 from long range in the final half.
Kenic’s 3 from the key with 2:24 to play allowed the Mocs to hit the century mark while a layup by Trey Doomes gave Chattanooga its biggest lead of the game at 105-65 with 30 seconds to play.
J.P. Robinson sank two free throws with 23.8 seconds left for the final 38-point margin.
“My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball and I was able to make a few shots,” Vila said afterward.
“We worked really hard since that loss on Wednesday and I feel like we responded in a positive way. We just had to stay calm, but I feel like we handled their pressure extremely well,” Vila nodded.
“We didn’t play our best on Wednesday, so for us to be able to bounce back like we did was big,” said Ryan afterward.
“I looked up at the clock and saw that we had scored more points in the second half than the first and we still have seven minutes to play, so I was confident we’d score 100 points today. I feel like we did a nice job executing, but we’ll have to do it again as Wofford doesn’t care how many points we scored today,” he said in reference to Chattanooga’s next game against the Terriors on Wednesday.
While the Mocs had four players in double figures, Samford was led by Josh Sharkey’s 21 points, including 13 in the second half. Robert Allen was also in double figures with 10.
Vila snagged eight rebounds and Ryan seven as Chattanooga had a 43-37 rebounding edge. Allen had seven for the Bulldogs.
While Chattanooga will be at home again on Wednesday to host Wofford, Samford will be in Johnson City on Wednesday to face East Tennessee State University.
SAMFORD (67) – Allen 10, Dupree 6, Austin 2, Sharkey 21, Thomas 8, Tatum 5, Dye 3, Padgett 5, Robinson 2.
CHATTANOOGA (105) – Johnson 2, Vila 24, Ryan 20, Jean-Baptiste 19, Commander 8, Scott 5, Kenic 17, Caldwell 5, Brown 2, Ledford, Smith, Tostado, Obidieube, Doomes 3.
FIELD GOALS: Samford 24 of 65 for 36.9 percent; Chattanooga 40 of 73 for 54.8 percent.
3-POINT GOALS: Samford 4 of 14 for 28.6 percent (Allen 0-2, Austin 1-4, Sharkey 1-3, Thomas 1-2, Tatum 0-1, Padgett 1-2); Chattanooga 17 of 31 for 54.8 percent (Johnson 0-1, Ryan 6-7, Jean-Baptiste 3-5, Commander 1-4, Scott 1-5, Kenic 5-5, Caldwell 1-2, Smith 0-1, Obidiebube 0-1).
REBOUNDS: Samford 37 (Allen 7, Dupree 6, Tatum 6); Chattanooga 43 (Vila 8, Ryan 7, Kenic 5, Caldwell 5).
ASSISTS: Samford 4 (Sharkey 2); Chattanooga 28 (Jean-Baptiste 8, Ryan 6, Scott 5, Johnson 4).
TOTAL FOULS: Samford 15, Chattanooga 19.
HALFTIME SCORE: Chattanooga, 41-30.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)