Mocs continue hot streak with win in Asheville

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs shook off a pesky pen of UNC Asheville Bulldogs for a 68-64 win Saturday afternoon in Kimmel Arena. Matt Ryan led four in three Mocs in double figures with 15 points, but it was the final six that earned the win.

DeVon Baker’s three with 1:57 to go made it a 60-60 game. David Jean-Baptiste made it a two-point game with free throws on the ensuing Mocs possession. A.J. Caldwell made a big play on defense. Tajjon Jones made a strong move to the hoop, but Caldwell stripped him of the ball.

The teams traded defensive stops. Ryan ended up with the ball top left. He drove then pulled up for the two-pointer with 19.3 to play and a four-point advantage, 64-60. Jones answered with a three to carve it to one and then the home team immediately fouled Ryan.

He calmly sank a pair to get back up by three, 66-63, with 9.9 on the clock. Chattanooga fouled to prevent a three-pointer, but a little early as 7.1 remained on the clock. Trent Stephney missed the first but made the second. The Mocs looked for Ryan again. He went to the line making two more to write the 68-64 win in the ledger.

Ramon Vila and Maurice Commander added 11 points for the Mocs. Lavar Batts, Jr. led all scorers with 17, while Jones and Baker chipped in 13 apiece.

“I think it worked well for us that there were timeouts, and we could come back and collect ourselves and get back to what we were doing,” Coach Lamont Paris explained. “Aside from being resilient, I don’t know if it’s smart, but I think their belief is really high in what we’re trying to do, and that’s a big part in what has helped [in close games]. It’s a great group of young men and I really enjoy coaching them.”

Chattanooga built a 14-point lead midway through the second half. Jones made it a 43-38 margin in favor of the Mocs. Stefan Kenić drained two free throws to start an 11-2 spurt. Jean-Baptiste ran off seven straight with a three and consecutive layups. Vila scored on a nice look from Rod Johnson to extend it to 54-40 with 11:10 on the clock.

The offense went dry. A drought of 4:44 ended on a Commander give-and-go three off an in-bounds play. The Bulldogs had gotten within one when Commander steadied the ship. Jones and Baker hit shots to level the score at 57-all, but the Mocs did not falter.

“That’s college basketball,” Ryan noted. “No lead is safe. We look up and see that we’re up 14 with 10:50 on the clock at a media timeout. We said there’s a lot of time left and in a blink of an eye, the game’s tied on a crazy run. For our team to weather that storm, to bounce back, to close out, was big. We made some winning plays.”

The Mocs head home for the holidays returning to the Roundhouse Sunday, Dec. 29, for a double-header with the women’s team. Donate two canned food items at the gate to replenish the Chattanooga Area Food Bank and get buy one, get one free tickets. The guys host Cumberland at 1:30 p.m., before the ladies take on Ohio.

Chattanooga 8-5 | UNC Asheville 6-5

“There was one point where I challenged them. We broke the timeout and I told them to go win the game. We’re to the point where we are starting to realize what that means. It doesn’t mean to go make a 10-point shot, or do something crazy, but to continue to do what you got you in that position. The guys are resilient.” – Coach Paris on late-game timeout

“That was huge. In the pregame chat with Coach, he emphasized that this game was going to come down to rebounding. I’m extremely happy because, as a big man, it makes me proud that we only allowed three offensive rebounds. That’s huge for us and something we need to keep working on and doing.” – Vila on sterling effort on the defensive glass

Check out all we heard at the link above.

– Seven DI non-conference wins for the fourth time in school history during the regular season. Also accomplished this number in 1987-88 (7-4), 2015-16 (9-2) and 2016-17 (7-4).
– Vila made five of seven in the post today continuing a strong stretch. Over his last five games, Vila is shooting 73.3 percent (22-30).
– Asheville entered the game second in the nation in turnover margin at 7.9 per game. The Mocs came to town No. 88 in turnovers per contest (12.6). The turnover total was a little higher at 14 for UTC but the margin was a manageable -4.
Check out all the notables at the link above.

– Chattanooga dominated the defensive glass. It collected 28 of 31 opportunities limit the Bulldogs to basically one chance per possession. They scored on just 28 of 66 times with the ball.
– The Mocs made seven of their first 10 3pt attempts. Shot 45.5 percent for the game (10-22). That’s the second-best rate of the season behind 11 of 22 (50%) in the runaway win over South Alabama.
– More rebounding with a +9 margin on the glass (37-28). Four Mocs grabbed five or more: Vila 8, Ryan 6, Commander 6 and Jean-Baptiste 5. Fewest rebounds (28) by a DI opponent.
Take a deeper dive into the numbers at the link above.

Dec. 29: Cumberland | Current Rec.: 9-5 | Next Opp: at Murray State (Dec. 28)
Jan. 4: at Mercer | Current Rec.: 5-7/0-1 | Next Opp: Florida Atlantc (Dec. 22)
Jan. 8: Furman | Current Rec.: 11-3/1-0 | Next Opp: at VMI (Jan. 1)

Categories: College, Sports, Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UTC Mocs

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