(gomocs.com) CULLOWHEE, N.C—Freshman Kevin Easley scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Chattanooga Mocs to a 73-62 Southern Conference road win at Western Carolina Thursday night. It was a hard-fought win with the Mocs making the plays they needed down the stretch.
The visitors led at the half, but a slow start put them in a hole early in the second half. Carlos Dotson capped an 8-2 run with back-to-back buckets to get the Catamounts ahead 41-38 with 15:48 remaining. The game was tied, 53-all, just inside the eight-minute mark with the Mocs losing what had been an eight-point first-half advantage.
“The guys fought, they were resilient even after the second half didn’t start great,” Coach Lamont Paris shared. “I thought we did a great job of responding and grabbing momentum back quickly. The guys were able to rally, and I thought they played with togetherness and were very well connected tonight. “Multiple guys stepped up.”
A.J. Caldwell’s 3 pointer with 7:19 to go jump-started an 11-1 run. David Jean-Baptiste added a strong take to the basket and a 3pt in front of the bench before Easley scored in the paint to extend it to 64-54 with 3:48 left. Jean-Baptiste and Donovann Toatley answered Catamount scores with a three and a driving layup, respectively, to keep any doubts from creeping in.
“Being down in the second half, a big thing for us as a team was to just stay calm,” Jean-Baptiste added. “We wanted to stay calm and play like how we know how to play. Offensively we were very comfortable because we know a lot of guys can make plays. A.J. [Caldwell] made a big three, Thomas [Smallwood] made some big threes. “It was just us staying confident and staying calm.”
Jean-Baptiste scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half. Ramon Vila added 10 points and seven rebounds. Dotson led the Catamounts with 18 points and 14 boards, the most by an opponent this season.
Chattanooga remains on its Smokey Mountains swing taking on ETSU Saturday in Johnson City. Game is 4 p.m.