Mocs Drop SoCon Opener 76-68 to the Citadel

(gomocs.com) CHARLESTON, S.C. –  The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team allowed 50 second half points during a hard-fought 76-68 loss at The Citadel in the Southern Conference opening game on Thursday night inside McAlister Field House in Charleston, S.C.  

Following the loss, Chattanooga has dropped its last three games and moves to 8-6 overall and 0-1 in SoCon action. The Citadel improves to 6-7 and 1-0 in the league.  

With both teams tied 26-26 at the break, the Bulldogs came out firing in the second half in route to shooting a blistering 62.5% (15-of-24) from the field including a 77.8% (7-of-9) mark from deep. The 50 second-half points mark the first time allowing 50 or more in a half since 55 against Wofford on January 16, 2021.  

“Credit to The Citadel, they played harder than us and that’s disappointing to me. They seemed faster to the ball than us,” said head coach Dan Earl following the game.   

“Those percentages [second half], that just can’t happen. It’s disappointing because I thought we didn’t take advantage of some things in the first half and then defensively, it’s a sign of effort. We just didn’t do enough.”  

Jamal Johnson led all scorers with 21 points behind his second-straight 6-of-10 performance from behind the arc. Jake Stephens tallied his eighth double-double of the season after posting 20 points and 11 boards while adding in five blocked shots for the third time this year.HOW IT HAPPENEDStephens opened the game with a three after controlling the tip to help jump start an 8-5 UTC lead at the first media timeout (15:56). The Mocs and Bulldogs entered a physical battle over the next few minutes before a Demetrius Davis three made it 16-12 (9:18) in favor of the visitors.  

The Citadel jumped ahead 24-21 (2:09) after a 12-5 run that was contributed to by a few UTC turnovers. Chattanooga, who was held to just a 23.5% (4-of-17) mark from deep in the half, scored five of the final seven points to tie things up 26-26 at the break.  

Both teams came out of the break firing and combined to knock down four threes as The Citadel earned a slight edge at 35-34 with 17:44 left in the contest. After a Stephens layup, the Bulldogs answered with six-straight points to grab a 40-36 (14:53) lead and force UTC into a timeout.  

The run stopped at nine-straight after Dalvin White connected on a corner three to cut the deficit to four, however, the hosts continued to apply pressure to amass its largest lead of the game at the time, 48-39, with 10:58 remaining.  The Bulldogs extended their lead to double digits on a pair of occasions and maintained a 55-44 lead with just 7:31 left in the contest. Chattanooga found its stroke from deep and connected on three-straight treys to cut it to two, 55-53 (5:50).

  The Citadel quickly responded after the brief run and once again created multiple possession separation, 60-53, with 4:57 on the block. The Mocs could only pull within four on two occasions, the latest 66-62 (1:26), before the Bulldogs eventually closed out the 76-68 victory.

RECORDS/SERIES – Chattanooga 8-6, 0-1 SoCon · The Citadel 6-7, 1-0 SoCon · Series: Chattanooga now leads the series 71-20.NOTES TO KNOW– Chattanooga has now lost its last three and falls to 8-6 overall and 0-1 in SoCon play… Citadel improves to 6-7 and 1-0 in the league… the loss is just the second for the Mocs against the Bulldogs in the last 11 meetings.  

– UTC ended the game shooting 35.4% (23-of-65) from the field… 35.9% (14-of-39) from deep… 80.0% (8-of-10) from the line… the 65 FG attempts were the most this season in a loss… the 39 3PT FG attempts ties the most this season in a loss (Georgia).  

– Jake Stephens surpassed 1,700 career points with his fourth point tonight… now at 1,716… 300 coming at UTC… finished the game with 20 points and 11 rebounds… eighth double-double of the season… added five blocks… third time this season with five blocks.  

QUOTES

Dan Earl on moving forward.

We did not handle the game well. I have to look in the mirror and figure out to get us to play harder, come out with a different attitude and approach to the game. I’ll certainly do that. We’ll have our work cut out for us again, we have to have a different approach to the game.”

Jamal Johnson on the difference.

“We dug ourselves too deep. After it was tied at halftime, we came out and made a couple shots, but they answered with a big run. After that, every time we came back, they hit a big shot. They wanted it more than us tonight and we gave it to them. We didn’t fight hard enough.”

NEXT UP – at Mercer – Saturday, Dec. 31 – 2:00 p.m. ET – Macon, Ga. 

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