Mocs Defense Clamps Down on Western Carolina in 65-47 Victory

( (February 9) — The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team avenged its loss to Western Carolina earlier this season with a stout defensive effort and earned its third-straight victory behind a 65-47 tally on Wednesday night in Southern Conference action inside McKenzie Arena.

Following the win, Chattanooga improves to 21-5 overall and remains atop the SoCon standings at 11-2. Western Carolina falls to 9-17 overall and 3-10 in league play. UTC will travel to second-place Furman (9-4) on Saturday afternoon.

The Mocs allowed just 17 first-half points to the Catamounts, the fewest allowed in the opening half against a DI opponent since 2017. In addition, the defense surrendered its lowest field-goal percentage (27.4%, 17-of-62) to an opponent since the 2011 Dr Pepper Classic and the lowest three-point percentage (10.0%, 3-of-30) since 2017.

“You hold a team to 17 points, you’d like to go into halftime with a bigger cushion, we just weren’t making shots,” said head coach Lamont Paris postgame.

“We came through did our thing and the shots went in. Good win, good conference win. We got a good effort from Western Carolina and I thought the guys matched it.”

Malachi Smith and A.J. Caldwell kept the mojo from Monday flowing, this time it was Smith who knocked down a triple off an assist from Caldwell on the game’s first possession. Darius Banks connected on a pair of threes and Smith was successful on his own put-back to put Chattanooga ahead 13-7 at the 11:58 mark.

Banks continued to hit from beyond the arc as his third of the opening half made it 17-10 at the under eight media (7:52). After a Grant Ledford three, Josh Ayeni converted on a bucket in the paint to keep UTC ahead 22-15 with 3:52 on the board.

Both teams struggled on the offensive end in the first half as Chattanooga took a 26-17 lead into the break. UTC shot just 31.3% (10-of-32) from the field and 26.3% (5-of-19) from three while the Mocs defense limited WCU to a 24.0% (6-of-25) mark from the floor and forced eight turnovers.

Western Carolina scored the first five points of the second half to cut the deficit to four, 26-22 (17:29). Caldwell stopped the bleeding with a much needed three to put Chattanooga back up six, 30-24 (15:31). The shot kicked off an 11-0 run that allowed the lead to grow to 14, 38-24 (13:06).

After the Catamounts got it back within single digits, 39-30 (10:43), the Mocs answered with an 18-6 sprint that saw two triples each from both Ledford and David Jean-Baptiste to help the lead extend to 19, 57-36, with just 6:29 remaining in the contest.

It was all Chattanooga down the stretch as the squad secured its third win in the last 103 hours, 65-47 over the Catamounts. UTC finished the game 21-of-57 (36.8%) from the floor while holding its opposition to a lowly 27.4% (17-of-62) mark including a 10.0% (3-of-30) tally from three. The WCU field goal percentage was the lowest allowed since 2011 while the three-point mark was the lowest since 2017.

Smith tied a game-high with 16 points and added six rebounds and three assists to stuff the stat sheet once again. Jean-Baptiste posted 14 points and five rebounds while Ledford and Banks each finished with nine points. Ledford collected a team-high seven rebounds in the winning effort.

RECORDS – Chattanooga (21-5, 11-2 SoCon) – Western Carolina (9-17, 3-10 SoCon)

SERIES – Chattanooga now leads the all-time series 69-30.

– 17 first-half points allowed is a season low for a DI opponent (16 by Covenant)… fewest first half points allowed to a DI opponents since 14 vs. Alabama State on Nov. 20, 2017… fewest to a SoCon opponent since 17 to Mercer on Feb. 25, 2017.

– 47 points are the fewest allowed a SoCon opponent this season besting the 82-52 win over ETSU… second time below 50 points against a DI opponent (45 vs UNC Asheville)… fewest allowed to a SoCon opponents since the 56-46 win at Wofford on Feb. 12, 2015.

– 11-1 in the Roundhouse this season (6-0 SoCon)… nine straight home conference wins… 30-8 over the last three seasons at home… most home wins in a season since 11 in 2016-17 (11-3).

Check out all the notes at the link above.

“It’ll be a big game. I’m not going to pretend that the factors aren’t there. If we go there and win, obviously we put ourselves in a phenomenal situation. They know if they win it, it’s a one game deal. I think it’s a big game that way. We are going to prepare the same way… look at the game here. They are a different team, we are a different team. I’m sure it’ll be a packed house. It’s one game but it’ll seem like a lot more. It’ll feel like an NCAA Tournament situation.” – head coach Lamont Paris on Saturday’s highly anticipated rematch at Furman.

“That’s what we have been trying to do from day one. You see it happen on the court in a game and you just pat yourself on the back.” – Darius Banks on the team’s defensive success.

Check out all the quotes at the link above.

UP NEXT – Chattanooga at Furman – Sat., Feb. 12 – 2PM ET

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

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