Mocs Grind Out SoCon Win At UNCG, 72-64

UTC Improves To 15-4, Sits Atop Conference Standings

Friday, January 21, 2022
With four players scoring in double digits and a stellar performance from the free-throw line, the Chattanooga Mocs men's basketball team grinded its way to its first win in Greensboro since 2016 and defeated UNCG 72-64 inside the Greensboro Coliseum in Southern Conference action on Thursday evening.
 
Following the victory, Chattanooga improves to 15-4 overall and sits atop the league standings by a half game over Mercer (4-1) at 5-1. UNCG has dropped its last three games and falls to 10-8 overall and 2-4 in SoCon action.
 
UTC uncharacteristically turned the ball over 17 times in the contest including five turnovers in the first few minutes of the second half.
In the wavering moments down the stretch, the Mocs connected on its last eight free throws and finished the game 18-of-20 (90.0%) as a whole.

 
"It was an interesting game. They play really hard and they play really good defense. They have a good defensive team with a good system," said head coach Lamont Paris.
 
"We turned it over a lot, early especially, and then we kind of cleaned that up in the end. It was a true SoCon road game. We challenged the guys to do it on their own and we turned it around. We did some winning things."

HOW IT HAPPENED
After missing two games, David Jean-Baptiste found himself back in the starting lineup and knocked down his first three-point attempt before driving for a layup, securing five quick points and helping Chattanooga to jump out to a 10-5 (16:00) lead.
 
UTC stretched out to a seven-point lead, 16-9 (12:30), before UNCG scored five of the next eight points to cut it to 18-14 at the next media timeout (10:30). Josh Ayeni connected on back-to-back field goals during the stretch to aid the Mocs offense.  
 
The Spartans run hit a 6-0 point after holding the Mocs scoreless for nearly four minutes and turning the team over five times, making the differential just two points (18-16, 7:58). AJ Caldwell hit a three to stop the run and stretch the lead to five before the home team tied things up, 22-22 at the 4:57 mark in the first half.
 
Caldwell hit a timely three to break a 24-24 tie before a KC Hankton layup allowed the UTC lead to grow to five, 29-24 with 3:01 on the clock. UNCG cut it to one, 29-28, before the Mocs scored five-straight points to pull ahead by six, 34-28 (0:39). The Spartans connected on a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds left to send the teams to the break separated by four, 34-30.
 
Chattanooga turned the ball over nine times in the opening half which prevented opportunities to extend the lead. UTC shot 59.1% (13-of-22) from the field and out-rebounded its opposition by a 13-10 count. Silvio De Sousa led the team at the break with nine points and four rebounds.
 
It was more of the same to begin the second half for the Mocs as the team turned the ball over four times in the first two-and-a-half minutes and allowed UNCG to tie the game 36-36 at the 17:31 mark. The Spartans would take their first lead of the game, 43-42, before stretching it to four, 46-42, with 11:34 remaining in the game.
 
Trailing 49-47, Malachi Smith hit a three to put the visitors up 50-49 (6:41) and sparked a 12-2 run over the next three minutes to extend the Mocs lead to eight, 59-51 with just 3:45 left in the game. UTC was perfect from the free throw line down the stretch, converting on all eight attempts to help seal the 72-64 victory.
 
Chattanooga out-shot UNCG by a 46.0% (23-of-50) to 41.5% (22-of-53) margin from the floor which included a 42.1% (8-of-19) to 38.9% (7-of-18) edge from beyond the arc. Despite turning the ball over 17 times, UTC allowed just 15 Spartan points off the miscues. The Mocs earned a 36-26 advantage on the glass and a 12-7 mark in second chance points.
 
Smith (22 points, 8-of-19 FG) led the team in scoring for the 13th time this season and surpassed the 1,000 career points mark which includes his freshman season at Wright State. De Sousa secured his fifth double-double of the season behind 15 points and 11 rebounds while Jean-Baptiste (16) and Caldwell (11) reached double digits in scoring.

RECORDS – Chattanooga (15-4, 5-1 SoCon) – UNCG (10-8, 2-4 SoCon)
 
SERIES – Chattanooga now leads the all-time series 27-24 and picks up its first win in Greensboro since 2015-16.

NOTES TO KNOW
- Chattanooga remains atop the SoCon by a half-game over Mercer at 4-1…Furman (4-2), VMI (4-3), Wofford (3-3) and ETSU (3-3) round out the top 5.

- 46.0 percent shooting (23-50) including 42.1 percent (8-19) from long range… season-best 90.0 percent (18-20) from the free throw line making 14 of 15 (93.3%) in the second half… best FT shooting performance since 90.9 percent (20-22) in the comeback 83-80 win over Mercer last Jan. 13.
 
- Smith's 13th 20pt effort of the season… fifth in a row and eight of last nine… 13 are most since 13 by Z. Mason in 2013-14…DI era record is 22 for a season by Gerald Wilkins in 1984-85… averaging 25.0 points per game over the last 13 with 11 contests scoring 20 or more during the stretch… Smith is up to 828 points in 43 games donning a Chattanooga uniform (19.3 ppg)… his fourth point tonight was 1,000th counting 190 as a freshman at Wright State.

Check out all the notes at the link above.

QUOTABLE
"We were hanging in there just because of the defense. We had five-straight turnovers at one point. It was critical. Basketball is a game of runs so you have to do one or the other, you have to get consecutive stops or make baskets. If you do both, you'll be up a lot and if you do neither, you'll be down. Guys figured out some things and we played better." – head coach Lamont Paris on basketball being a game of runs.

"I think that's the beauty of our team. We have so many guys who can make plays at so many different times. Tonight it happened to be or Malachi or Dave, other nights it can be Darius, KC or Silvio. That's just how we're built and it's great being out there with those guys." – A.J. Caldwell on the team's depth.

Check out all the quotes at the link above.
 
UP NEXT – Chattanooga at VMI – Sat., Jan. 22 – 1PM ET – 2021-22 Schedule

SOCON SCOREBOARD
at VMI 99, Samford 80

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