Mocs men fall short at ETSU

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs made furious second half comeback at ETSU Saturday, but it was not meant to be falling 75-64 in Freedom Hall. A.J. Caldwell and Ramon Vila combined for 34 of the 64 points for the Mocs.

The Bucs opened the second half on a 22-3 run taking a 27-point cushion, 56-29, on Davien Williamson’s layup at 13:47. Chattanooga started chipping away.

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“A lot can happen in that time,” Coach Lamont Paris said. “You can go up nine or down nine, I’ve seen it. A lot can happen in that time. We got where it was a manageable deal, but the rim becomes a little smaller, you become more tentative. We got it to where it was manageable, but not ideal.”

Three straight baskets in just over a minute eased the burden. Bo Hodges scored two of his game-high 27 to get it back to a 22-point lead, 62-40, with 10:07 to go. The defense stiffened and the offense made a run.

Eight straight empty possessions for the home-standing Bucs opened the door. Stefan Kenić drilled the first three of the game with 8:43 remaining. That jump-started a 13-0 run making it interesting as the first of three Caldwell treys fell at 5:50. It was a manageable 5:50 remaining on the clock and nine-point deficit, 62-53.


Related Article: Mocs swept by rival Bucs

After the eighth stop, the Mocs offense met strong resistance. As the shot clock neared zero, Grant Ledford’s three in front of the visiting bench was blocked by Hodges who ignited the fast break. Williamson’s corner three in transition calmed the home team.

Caldwell nailed another three 16 seconds later getting it back to nine with 4:31 to go. That’s as close as it would get.

Caldwell’s 17 points is a career high as he led the squad in rebounds (7) and assists (4) as well. Vila also had 17 points to go with six rebounds. Hodges added eight rebounds and five steals to his stat line with Williamson coming off the bench recording 15 points.

The Mocs remain on the road Wednesday at Samford. They’re back in the Roundhouse on Saturday, Feb. 1, hosting Western Carolina. It’s reunion weekend with this year’s model welcoming back the legends who built the most dominant program in the SoCon over the past 40+ seasons. Tickets are available on GoMocs.com or consider the new “All You Can Eat” option.

RECORDS
Chattanooga 13-8/4-4 | ETSU 18-3/7-1

QUOTABLE
“At that point, you need everything to go your way. Some normal things, of the flip of the coin, do or don’t go your way, didn’t go out way. Because of that and the deficit that we built, we needed everything to go our way.” – Coach Lamont Paris

“That was one of the biggest emphases coming in, to keep them off the offensive glass. I think we did a good job. Sometimes it happens, but I think we’re happy, for us to do well on the glass is a positive the next time we play these guys.” – sophomore wing A.J. Caldwell

Check out all we heard at the link above.

3 NOTES TO KNOW
– 89th meeting between the two schools with a 47-42 mark the Mocs way. It’s the third-longest running series in school history behind Samford (100) and Western Carolina (94) and just ahead of Furman (88).
– Vila is off to a good start in his career in this rivalry contest. In his four matchups, he’s averaged 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest shooting 65.7 percent (23-35).
– 51.1 percent shooting making 25 of a season-low 45 shots, 60 percent (18-30) inside the 3pt arc. 4-2 when shooting better than 50 percent, 9-2 when turning in a better shooting effort than the opponent this year (ETSU was 48.3 percent).
Check out all the notables at the link above.

3 STATS TO KNOW
– -12 turnover margin (17/5) led to a 20-9 Bucs advantage on points off turnovers.
– +2 rebound margin (30/28) against the SoCon’s top rebounding team entering the contest with a 5.4 margin for the season.
– Chattanooga went 5-15 (33.3%) from 3pt range missing their first seven. Made 62.5 percent (5-8) in the failed comeback bid.
Take a deeper dive into the numbers at the link above.

SOCON SCOREBOARD
Mercer 69, at VMI 66
Furman 78, at The Citadel 54
UNC Greensboro 70, at Samford 63
Wofford at Western Carolina, 7 p.m. | Live Stats

MBB UPCOMING GAMES
Jan. 29: at Samford | Current Rec.: 8-14/2-6 | Next Opp: Chattanooga (Jan. 29)
Feb. 1: Western Carolina (Reunion Weekend) | Current Rec.: *12-6/4-3 | Next Opp: UNCG (Jan. 29)
Feb. 5: ETSU | Current Rec.: 18-3/7-1 | Next Opp: Mercer (Jan. 29)
*record entering Saturday