The Chattanooga Mocs played a great second half in Wednesday’s comeback win against Mercer, but they played equally as bad in the second half Saturday in a lopsided loss to Wofford.
The Mocs played like they were capable in the opening 20 minutes when they built a 35-22 halftime lead, but the second half was a totally different story as the Terriors scorched the nets for 55 points to win with ease, 77-59.
Wofford improves to 7-4 overall and 5-1 in SoCon play while Chattanooga falls to 11-4 overall and 2-4 in conference action.
UTC coach Lamont Paris was really proud of the way his kids battled back on Wednesday, but he didn’t have much good to say after Saturday’s embarrassment.
“That was a tale of two halves as there was a real momemtum shift. I really don’t have an explanation for what happened. That was a really long second half,” he said to Jim Reynolds on the post-game radio show.
“There is absolutely no excuse for not competing as this isn’t rocket science, but there were a lot of times in the second half when we came away with nothing. Our defense in the second half was totally unacceptable as things snowballed really quick.
“But we just have to pick up and move on to the next game,” Paris concluded.
Wofford coach Jay McAuley could only smile during his post-game comments with the Wofford radio team.
“That was by far our most complete half of the season. I told our guys at the half that if we can win the glass, we can win this game. It was really cool to watch,” he began.
“We were really frustrated in the second half, but so many guys made valuable contributions in the second half, even guys off the bench. Winning is always our main goal, but we’re just thankful to be able to play. We’re playing pretty well right now, but we still have plenty of room to get better,” he added.
There were four ties and five lead changes in the first half.
Ryan Larson sank the second of two free throws with 13:03 to play to give Wofford a 12-9 lead before the Mocs scored the next nine points, taking the lead for second time at 14-12 when Jamaal Walker canned a 3 from the wing.
Tray Hollowell scored five straight points to get the Terriors within a point at 18-17 with 8:04 left in the opening half before the Mocs went on a 15-2 run in the next seven minutes, holding their biggest lead at 33-19 following a 3 by Malachi Smith with 2:30 left.
While the first half pretty much belonged to Chattanooga, Wofford was in control the entire second half.
Their intensity level was turned all the way up and they made the Mocs pay as the Terriors won all the hustle plays, claiming all the loose balls, enjoying a commanding 31-10 rebounding edge that included a whopping 14 offensive boards.
In a nutshell, the Mocs were a day late and a dollar short.
That 13-point halftime lead was erased in the first 11 minutes of the second half as the Terriors took their first lead of the final 20 minutes when Storm Murphy canned a 3 from the corner with 9:14 to play as Wofford regained the advantage at 48-46.
David Jean-Baptiste scored on a drive from the wing with 7:49 to play as the Mocs led for the last time at 50-48.
The Terriors then went on an 11-2 run in the next three minutes for a 59-52 lead with 4:45 to play and it never got closer.
Murphy finished with 23 points to lead the Terriors after just scoring five in the first half.
Morgan Safford was next with 19 while Hollowell finished with 10.
Smith scored 15 points to lead the Mocs while Jean-Baptiste scored 13 before fouling out late in the game. Josh Ayeni and Darius Banks both finished with 11 points.
Ryan Larson had eight rebounds while teammates Sam Godwin and Safford both grabbed seven each as the Terriors won the rebound battle, 42-31.
Banks and Smith both had seven for the Mocs.
Chattanooga returns to action with a road game on Wednesday at Samford while Wofford will be at home next Saturday against Western Carolina in its next game.
WOFFORD (77) – Godwin 6, Murphy 23, Larson 3, Safford 19, Hollowell 10, Klesmit 8, Mack 6, Turner, Pringle 2, Patterson, Steelman, Gore.
CHATTANOOGA (59) – Ayeni 11, Kenic 4, Jean-Baptiste 13, Banks 11, Smith 15, Caldwell, Walker 5.
FIELD GOALS: Wofford 25 of 57 for 43.9 percent; Chattanooga 22 of 56 for 39.3 percent.
FREE THROWS: Wofford 18 of 24 for 75 percent; Chattanooga 11 of 14 for 78.6 percent.
3-POINT GOALS: Wofford 9 of 26 for 34.6 percent (Murphy 3-9, Safford 2-4, Hollowell 2-7, Klesmit 2-5, Mack 0-1); Chattanooga 4 of 21 for 19 percent (Kenic 0-3, Jean-Baptiste 1-2, Banks 1-5, Smith 1-4, Caldwell 0-3, Walker 1-4).
REBOUNDS: Wofford 42 (Larson 8, Godwin 7, Safford 7); Chattanooga 31 (Banks 7, Smith 7).
ASSISTS: Wofford 16 (Murphy 5, Klesmit 3); Chattanooga 6 (Jean-Baptiste 3, Smith 2).
TURNOVERS: Wofford 10 (Larson 3); Chattanooga 13 (Banks 4, Jean-Baptiste 3, Smith 3).
STEALS: Wofford 7 (Larson 3, Murphy 2); Chattanooga 6 (Caldwell 4).
BLOCKS: Wofford 4 (Godwin, Larson, Safford, Pringle); Chattanooga 2 (Kenic, Smith).
HALFTIME SCORE: Chattanooga 35-22.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)