RADFORD, Va.---The Chattanooga Mocs (1-1) fell behind early and charged late falling 89-78 at Radford (1-1) Monday evening. The Highlanders led by as many as 25 in the second half before the Mocs cut it within 10 in the final minutes.
Greg Pryor and Gee McGhee each had 17 to pace the Mocs. Eric Robertson added 13 off the bench with five rebounds and three steals.
Radford was led by Jevonte Green’s 23-point, 12-rebound effort. Rashun Davis and Ya Ya Anderson chipped in 13 and 12, respectively.
We never got into rhythm in the first half,” Head Coach Will Wade stated. “We were able to get into the rhythm in the second half and played really well, but we didn’t attack enough to score. In the first half, we weren’t able to set our press, but when we did in the second half, it gave them fits, and we were able to come back and play really well.
“We just didn’t get off to a good start.”
It was a fast and furious start for the Highlanders in their home opener. Jalen Carruthers’ slam dunk with 14:26 to play seemed made it a 25-point contest, 61-36. Chattanooga continued to battle.
A slow shooting start, less than 30 percent at that point in the game, was pushed aside by the visitors. Down 71-50 at 7:01, Pryor and Martynas Bareika (Kedainiai, Lithuania) combined for a five-point trip to get the lead down to 16, 71-55.
The Mocs slowly chipped away at that margin getting inside of 10 points (82-73) on a Robertson free throw with 1:01 to go. Bareika’s three just 20 seconds later cut it back to nine, 85-76, with 41 ticks remaining.
Robertson fouled to send RU’s Allen Dickerson to the free throw line. He missed both and Pryor raced his squad up the court. He found McGhee open in the corner, but his three-ball rimmed out. Radford made its free throws down the stretch for the 89-78 win.
Chattanooga managed just 36.1 percent (22-61) shooting on the night, 35.7 percent (10-28) from 3pt range. Radford shot 51.8 percent (29-56) including 50 percent (6-12) from beyond the arc.
The two telling stats beyond the shooting numbers came in the paint. The Highlanders held a 42-16 points in the paint advantage and out-rebounded the Mocs by 11, 45-34.
Despite the loss, the silver lining was clear for the scrappy group from the Scenic City.
“You’re always playing uphill on the road,” senior forward Z. Mason said. “But we fought back because Coach Wade just kept telling us to keep fighting. We cut the lead down to nine at one point, and he kept preaching to keep fighting.
“It’s tough playing on the road anywhere, but we have to fight through that adversity and play hard.”