“Surprisingly Poor Performance” Leads to Mocs First SoCon Loss

(gomocs.com) CULLOWHEE, N.C. (January 12) — The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team saw its four-game win streaked after a cold shooting night led to a 70-59 loss on the road at Western Carolina inside the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, N.C., during Southern Conference action.

Following the loss, Chattanooga falls to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in the league. WCU improved its season mark to 8-9 overall and an even 2-2 in SoCon play. UTC shot just 31.5% (17-of-54) from the floor and 16.0% (4-of-25) from three during the loss.

“It’s a surprisingly poor performance. There was a lot, we were shorthanded, but it was just a poor performance,” said head coach Lamont Paris after the game. “There’s no excusing that away. We played poorly in a lot of ways.”

I expected us to play better, especially shooting, but when you don’t, you have to compete better, and you hope that’s enough to get you a win. We just weren’t ready.”

HOW IT HAPPENED
Malachi Smith opened the game with a three-pointer off a second chance rebound from a Darius Banks before Silvio De Sousa slammed one home to put UTC up 6-2 at the first media timeout (15:35). Smith connected on a driving layup before another three ball and two Banks free throws to help extend the lead to 13-4 at the 13:03 mark in the opening half.

The Catamounts answered with five of the next seven points to pull within six at 15-9 (10:35). The Mocs lead shrunk to one, 23-22 (3:37), after going 1-for-10 from the field over an eight-plus minute while the Catamounts connected on 4-for-5 over that stretch. Smith would score five of the half’s final six points to put the visitors up 30-26 at the break.

Chattanooga shot just 36.7% (11-of-30) from the field which included a lowly 14.3% (2-of-14) mark from three in the first 20 minutes. UTC held WCU to a 28.1% (9-of-32) field goal percentage and a 9.1% (1-of-11) tally from beyond the arc. The Mocs were turned over five times while forcing just three from the opposition.

After the Catamounts cut their deficit to one, 32-31, AJ Caldwell hit a three to push the Mocs ahead 35-31 at the 16:58 mark. WCU would respond again, this time with a 12-3 run, to take a 43-38 advantage with 11:49 left in the game.

The lead would grow to as many as eight, 54-46, with 7:29 remaining after the Catamounts hit their fourth three of the half. It was all WCU down the stretch as the cold-shooting Mocs couldn’t break through. Western continued its push and saw its largest lead of the game at 14, 69-55, before eventually closing out for a 70-59 victory.

Chattanooga shot just 31.5% (17-of-54) from the field for the game, 25.0% (6-of-24) in the second half, and connected on just four threes in 25 attempts (16.0%). Smith led all scorers with 33 points while nearly missing a double-double after grabbing nine boards. Silvio De Sousa pulled down 11 rebounds and added three blocks.

RECORDS – Chattanooga (13-4, 3-1 SoCon) – Western Carolina (8-9, 2-2 SoCon)

SERIES – Chattanooga now leads the all-time series 68-30.

NOTES TO KNOW
– Season-low shooting making 31.5 percent (17-54)… previous low was 40.4 percent at VCU (21-52)… came into the contest leading the SoCon at 48.5 percent for the year… season lows for 3pt made (4) and percentage (16.0%)… season highs for free throws made (21) and attempted (29).

Malachi Smith has 216 points (24.0 ppg) in nine road games with 20+ each time… 10 straight road games with 20+ dating back to the road finale at Mercer (22) last season.

Malachi Smith drew 15 fouls shooting 16 of 21 at the free throw line… most FT made by a Moc since Jason Rogan’s 16 in the Dec. 1, 2003 comeback win at Tennessee State… tied for fifth most all-time… 21 attempts are the most since Derrick Kirce in the home win over Furman on Feb. 26, 1991… tied for second-highest total behind David Bryan’s 25 at Tennessee Wesleyan on Feb. 13, 1969.

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