UTC Earns Another Key SoCon Win 84-75 Over Mercer

Mocs Earn 20th Win

  • Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Typically living behind the arc, the Chattanooga Mocs men's basketball team reversed course and featured a highly efficient attack from two-point range during a key 84-75 victory over Mercer in late-season Southern Conference action on Wednesday night inside McKenzie Arena.
 
Following the win, Chattanooga earns its 20th win of the season and improves to 20-10 overall and 12-5 in the league. With a Furman loss at Western Carolina, UTC clinches either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the SoCon Tournament next weekend.
Mercer drops to 14-16 overall and 7-10 in conference play after the defeat.
 
Chattanooga struggled from behind the arc during the victory (7-of-29, 24.1%), but finished the contest 20-of-25 (80.0%) on two-point attempts while knocking down a season-high 23 free-throws. UTC finished the game shooting an even 50.0% (27-of-54) to notch its eighth 50%+ FG effort in SoCon play this season.
 
"I was really proud of our guys tonight. I thought we played tough, which is hard to say when they had 17 offensive rebounds, but I thought we competed throughout," said head coach Dan Earl.
 
"I also thought we shared the ball well tonight. Sometimes you miss shots, and you lose because of it, but I thought it was good that we missed some open shots after sharing the ball the right way and still were able to pull out a win. Happy for the guys."

After a cold shooting start from the hosts, Mercer grabbed an early 8-3 lead the game's first media timeout at the 14:57 mark of the opening half. The Mocs found an offensive stride over the next four-plus minutes and claimed a 22-19 lead (10:27) after six unanswered points, capped off by a Demetrius Davis and-one.

UTC ended its scoring run on a 13-0 tally and built a 29-19 lead after a Sam Alexis spinning layup and a Trey Bonham steal and score forced Mercer into a timeout with 7:32 left in the half. The Bears responded with five-straight to cut it back to five, 29-24 (5:49), before trimming it down to three, 31-28 (4:25), moments later.
 
Chattanooga held Mercer scoreless over the final 2:05 of the first half which ultimately led to a 41-33 halftime lead. After a 1-of-5 start from the floor, the Mocs ended the first 20 minutes shooting an efficient 58.4% (14-of-24) which included a 9-of-10 (90.0%) mark from inside the arc.
 
Mercer opened the second half with a quick 6-1 run to pull within three, 42-39 (17:45), before an Honor Huff layup nearly two minutes later made it 48-42 in favor of the home team with 16:13 left in the contest. Leading 50-48 (12:42), Chattanooga used a 7-2 spurt with all seven points coming from Jan Zidek and Huff to up its lead to seven, 57-50 (10:55).
 
The Mocs continued to find stops on the defensive end and translated it into points on the other end as a Bonham steal and Huff layup helped push the advantage to 12, 65-53 (8:27). It was Mercer's turn to make a run, amounting seven-straight points to bring it back down to five, 65-60 (5:30), before Zidek's second three of the game stopped the run and gave UTC a 68-60 lead (4:13).
 
The lead stretched to as many as 12, 74-62 (1:59), in the game's final moments before the Mocs eventually put away the 84-75 victory. UTC finished 9-of-11 from the free-throw line over the final two minutes to help seal the win.

NEXT UP – vs. Western Carolina – Saturday, March 2 – 2:00 p.m. ET – McKenzie Arena – ESPN+ – SENIOR DAY
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