BOONE, N.C.---Senior Z. Mason led the Chattanooga Mocs to their seventh win a row running away from Appalachian State 80-70 in the Holmes Center. Mason had a game-high 22 points with 12 rebounds a career-high-tying six blocks as Chattanooga won its first game in Boone since the 2005-06 season.
The Mocs are now 5-0 in the Southern Conference and lead the league by a full game over Western Carolina which is also undefeated at 3-0.
“One thing that we’ve been good with during the streak has been playing as a team,” Head Coach Will Wade said. “It’s in never knowing who is going to score or how we are going to. It hasn’t been pretty, but we’ve had a lot of guys step up and tonight was no different.
“We had Marty step up and bang those threes in the first half to really get us going.”
Martynas Bareika (Kedainiai, Lithuania) keyed the first-half surge that turned the game around. App State jumped out to a 15-5 lead in the first six-and-a-half minutes on two Tab Hamilton free throws at 13:31. Bareika hit the first of four three-pointers in the opening frame a minute later.
Bareika and Mason combined for 22 points for the rest of the first half leading a 35-14 run for a 40-29 advantage at the break. Bareika’s trey at 4:56 put the Mocs up for good, 28-25, with 4:56 to go.
“We were able to get stops – string them together – and that helped us lead to our transition offense,” Wade stated. It all started with stops. I think we got something like 16 of 18 stops at one point near the half, so we always talk about getting three stops in a row.
“We got three of those in that run, and it was a big run for us.”
Chattanooga led by as many as 16 in the second half on a Casey Jones layup, 51-35, with 14:41 remaining. The Mountaineers made runs, but the Mocs had answers. The hosts could not get closer than eight the rest of the way.
Bareika had 16 points, his best result in a SoCon contest. Jones added 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Ronrico White came off the bench to chip in 13 points.
Jay Canty led Appalachian with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Mike Neal posted 16 points and four assists, while Tab Hamilton and Michael Obacha also scored in double figures with 12 and 10, respectively.
Chattanooga had a 39-32 advantage on the glass. Its work on the offensive glass late was key with seven of its 10 for the game coming in the second 20 minutes, with four coming on two possessions setting up scores when ASU cut the lead to eight.
“We were just out-willing them on the glass,” Wade added. “I loved it…absolutely loved it. That’s who we are. We’re blue collar and we find a way.”
“We make toughness plays and that’s how you win on the road, you have to give our guys credit for that.”
The Mocs head south for a Saturday tilt at Wofford. Game time is 7 p.m., in a rematch of last Saturday’s thriller with Chattanooga earning a 70-69 win.