The Chattanooga Mocs men's basketball team posted its first wire-to-wire victory of the season after a dominating first half led to an 88-76 victory over Milwaukee in front of 2,658 fans inside McKenzie Arena on Tuesday night.
Following the win, Chattanooga has won its last four and improves to 6-3 on the season. Milwaukee had its five-game win streak snapped and falls to 7-4 on the year.
The Mocs raced out to a 44-21 lead at halftime in which the defense forced 12 Panthers turnovers that led to a 20-0 differential in points off turnovers.
Milwaukee found its stroke in the second half and knocked down 10 three-pointers while shooting at a 55.6% (20-of-36) clip, however, the hosts lead was just too much to overcome.
"Really proud of our guys effort tonight. I thought we did a lot of things really well, we only turned the ball over eight times against a very good Milwaukee team that presses the entire time, that says a lot about our backcourt," said head coach Dan Earl.
"A lot of guys played good minutes tonight and affected the game. Overall, really good effort. We're just trying to string together two full halves."
Jake Stephens once again poured in a dominating effort, scoring 31 points (11-of-21 FG, 3-of-7 3PT) and grabbing 13 rebounds to notch his fifth double-double of the season. Demetrius Davis added 19 points which included three-straight threes in the first half.
Khristion Courseault returned for the first time since the season opener at Charleston and posted 11 points and three assists in 18 minutes. Jamal Johnson added 10 points in the victory.
Chattanooga opened the game on a 10-2 run (15:58) on the help of seven points from Stephens ahead of the game's first media timeout. Davis caught fire from behind the arc and knocked down three-straight triples to give UTC a 19-8 lead with 11:15 left in the half.
Milwaukee got back within eight, 23-15 (7:17), before Chattanooga used a 9-0 run to build its largest lead of the game, 35-15 (3:22), behind a 12-0 run. The Mocs would head to halftime with a 44-21 lead after outscoring the Panthers 20-0 in points off turnovers, forcing the opposition into 12 total turnovers.
Milwaukee responded to start the second half and outscored UTC by a 14-8 count early on to cut the deficit to 52-35 (16:34). The Panthers would cut it to as little as 15 before the Mocs bounced it back to 19, 64-45 (10:34), on Coursault's first triple of the season.
Chattanooga and Milwaukee traded threes in back-and-forth fashion over the next three-plus minutes as the visitors kept chipping away to find themselves down just 12, 76-64, with 6:11 left in the game. It would only get down to as little as 11, 82-71 (4:03), before the Mocs eventually closed out the 88-76 victory.