Mocs Down Wofford 71-60 For Fourth Straight Victory

(gomocs.com)

CHATTANOOGA (January 26) — The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team earned its fourth-straight Southern Conference victory after a strong defensive effort led to a 71-60 win over the Wofford Terriers on Wednesday night inside an energetic McKenzie Arena.

Following the win, Chattanooga improves to 17-4 overall and remains a half-game up in the SoCon standings at 7-1. Wofford falls to 12-9 overall and 4-5 inside league play.

Coach Lamont Paris agreed to donate $1 for every ticket sold tonight to the American Cancer Society as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer annual campaign. Tonight’s announced game attendance was 3,211, leading to a solid $3,211 contribution to a great cause from Paris.

“I was hoping we’d get a packed house,” Paris laughed after the game. “But I thought it was a good crowd. That is a scrappy team. They have a lot of guys that can shoot the ball from three and it was a physical game.

“I am happy with the guys, how they competed and beating a great team is always a plus. It’s a special group of guys and I really enjoy coaching them. I feel blessed being able to coach them. These are their days and that makes it my favorite days.”

HOW IT HAPPENED
Wofford opened the game with a pair of threes in its first three attempts of the game while Malachi Smith and David Jean-Baptiste each connected on triples of their own to allow for a 10-8 Wofford edge at the first media timeout (15:32).

After three points from Avery Diggs and a couple defensive stops, Smith nailed a step-back three in front of the visiting bench to put UTC ahead for the first time, 16-14, with 9:56 left in the opening half. The threes continued to fall for hosts as Darius Banks hit the team’s fourth to extend the lead to 23-17 at the 7:41 mark.

The lead grew to eight, 27-19, on Banks’ seventh point of the half coming via a backdoor layup off a feed from KC Hankton with 4:38 on the clock. It was Banks again from beyond the arc down the first half stretch that helped the squad take a 32-23 lead into the break after key defensive stops from Josh Ayeni.

Banks had a game-high 10 points at the break where the team shot 12-of-26 (46.2%) from the floor and 5-of-10 (50.0%) from three-point land. The Mocs were edged on the glass in the opening half 19-16 (8-3 on the offensive side) but forced five Wofford turnovers to help create the separation.

Jean-Baptiste kicked off the second half with an uncontested layup to put the hosts up double digits ahead of a few traded baskets and a Wofford three that cut their deficit to eight, 36-28 (16:52). The Terriers cut it to six at 42-36 before Smith went coast-to-coast after a steal and converted an and-one to put UTC up 45-36 at the 12:12 mark of the second half.

The closest Wofford would get in the second half would be five, 50-45 (7:33), as the Chattanooga defense came away with multiple stops which led to timely buckets on the offense end to keep a comfortable distance. UTC capped off a 9-2 run from that point on five-straight points from Smith to build a 59-47 (5:21) lead.

The Mocs kept separation down the stretch on the help of treys from Hankton and A.J. Caldwell and conversions on its last four free throw attempts to seal the 71-60 win. Smith tied a game-high with 18 points while adding in seven rebounds in addition to double-digit scoring efforts from Jean-Baptiste (13) and Banks (12). Caldwell posted eight points, six boards and five assists to stuff the stat sheet.

Chattanooga reached its magic number from behind the arc (44.0%, 11-of-25) to move to 10-0 this season when shooting north of 40 percent. The Mocs shot an efficient 49.1% (26-of-53) in total from the floor and limited Wofford to a season-low 33.9% (20-of-59) field-goal percentage and a lowly 26.5% (9-of-34) mark from three.

RECORDS – Chattanooga (17-4, 7-1 SoCon) – Wofford (12-9, 4-5 SoCon)

SERIES – Chattanooga sweeps the regular season series and improves to 28-20 all-time against Wofford.

NOTES TO KNOW
– 7-1 in the SoCon… 10th time winning seven of first eight league games (1982-83, 1986-87, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2014-15, 2015-16)… best start all-time was 10-0 in 1981-82 finishing the year at 15-1 which was matched the next season as well…. 1984-85 and 1996-97 teams opened 9-0 and 2013-14 at 8-0 are the only other squads to be undefeated through eight league games.

– Zero ties and just one lead change all night… 0-0 for 36 seconds and then Wofford led for 9:03 before a Malachi Smith 3pt put the Mocs up by two never looking back over the final 30:21… held Wofford to a season-low 33.9 percent shooting (20-59)… also limited the Terriers to 26.5 percent (9-34) from long range.

– Good all-around game for A.J. Caldwell…eight points, six rebounds and five assists (0 TOs) in 31:36 off the bench… team-high +14 scoring margin for his time on the court.

Check out all the notes at the link above.

QUOTABLE
“I do think we are getting better, but we are playing such different types of teams. You can go around the whole nation and I don’t know how many conferences have as many different types of playing teams as we do. It’s a little harder to gage that because it’s a different style than what we were doing at VMI and Greensboro. We are getting better, and I continue to talk to our guys about how we can get better.”Lamont Paris on the team’s improvement.

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