(gomocs.com) CHATTANOOGA—The Chattanooga Mocs ran away with a 90-72 win over South Alabama Friday night in McKenzie Arena. It was a dominating performance led by a trio of double-figure scorers.
David Jean-Baptiste had a career-high 25 to lead with way. He was joined in the 20s by Matt Ryan with 20 on the number, while Ramon Vila added 17 points, six rebounds and a career-best four assists. Andre Fox led the Jaguars with 24.
It was an uneasy start with the visitors scoring the first four points after a quick Mocs turnover against the press. The deficit was 8-3 when the hosts jumped ahead behind a 19-1 run. Vila’s layup at 8:50 made it 22-9.
The Jaguars responded scoring the next seven points breaking an eight-plus minute drought with a Fox three to answer the Vila layup. That was as close as the Mocs allowed it to get.
They closed the half on an 8-0 run capped by Jean-Baptiste’s buzzer-beater three.
“At the last dead ball, coach looked at me and said if you have the shot, take it…stay aggressive,” Jean-Baptiste explained. “We spread the floor and Justin (Brown) set a great screen. The 5 switched on me. He kept backing up, giving me space. Coach instilled full confidence in me taking that shot, and it went in.”
It carried over into the second 20. The lead topped 20 on Ryan’s triple at 16:54. It reached its apex of 28, 66-38, on Trey Doomes’ layup on an in-bounds pass from Rod Johnson, one of five assists for the junior power forward.
The Jaguars chipped away from there. Tyreke Locure’s three off the fast break got it under 20 again, 73-54, at 6:22. The lead narrowed to 16 twice inside five minute and got as close as 15, 84-69, with 2:25 to go on a Chad Lott basket.
But the Gig City lads did not wilt. Four points from Ryan and a final two free throws by Jonathan Scott cemented the 90-72 final. Despite the 90 points and blistering the nets throughout the evening, and we discuss the shooting prowess at length below, Coach Lamont Paris had a different focus in the postgame media scrum.
“Our emphasis was on the defensive end because those guys are aggressive, downhill, strong athletic finishers,” Paris shared. “I can’t say enough about two things. One, how we competed physically and two, how we stuck to the game plan.
“The first half was a phenomenal job, best thing we’ve done since I’ve been here on that end and it isn’t even close. I was really happy for our guys.”
The Mocs hit the road for five games away from the friendly Roundhouse confines. It starts next Wednesday, Nov. 20, with a trip to Florida State followed five days later with the short trip up I-75 to take on Tennessee on Nov. 25.
They then go to the gulf coast of Florida for the Emerald Coast Classic (Nov. 29-30) meeting Alabama State in the opening round with either Jacksonville State or Chicago State awaiting on day two. The tour of the southeast concludes with the Southern Conference opener at Western Carolina on Dec. 3.