GREENVILLE, S.C. (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs and Furman Paladins entered today’s contest in Timmons Arena as two of the most efficient offensive teams in the league. So it stood to reason they’d battle it out in a defensive slobber knocker with the Paladins emerging with a 58-53 win.
It was the second fewest combined points of the season behind 104 in the 58-46 loss at Tennessee in November. The 111 points are the least amount in a Chattanooga Southern Conference matchup since 102 in a 56-46 win at Wofford on Feb. 12, 2015.
Matt Ryan earned his first collegiate double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Mocs. Noah Gurley paced the Paladins with 14 points and six rebounds, while Jalen Slawson added 13.
Slawson’s three with 11;54 to go had the home team up 10, 41-31. The offensive struggles made the climb seem even higher, but the Mocs worked their way back into it. A.J. Caldwell’s triple at the seven-minute mark made it a four-point affair, 44-40.
Caldwell came up big on the defensive end. He drew a foul on Furman’s ball-screen action on Mike Bothwell sending the ball back into the offensive zone. They worked the clock for a good shot, but David Jean-Baptiste’s jumper was off the mark.
The Paladins scored on successive possessions and eventually stretch the lead back to nine heading into the final minute. Ryan scored on the offensive boards and then Jean-Baptiste stole the inbounds pass. A quick foul sent Ryan to the line and just like that, it’s a five-point game, 54-49.
“If we could have just put in a couple more baskets [in the first half], we would be leading in the second half, instead of trying to claw our way back,” grad student Matt Ryan noted. “I don’t think we got it under four. We kept getting it to four … it is good game experience, especially against a good team on the road going into the latter stages of this season.”
Gurley made one of two free throws then the Paladins sent Ryan to the line once again just inside 30 seconds to play. He made both to carve the lead to four, 55-51. Intense defensive pressure led to another turnover with Trey Doomes tying up Alex Hunter. It led to another possession down four, but the Mocs could not capitalize leading to the 58-53 loss.
“It was, particularly in the second half, I thought it definitely felt like possession-by-possession,” Coach Lamont Paris mentioned on the First Bank postgame radio show. “We just couldn’t get enough traction to take that lead in the second half. We were up by nine to start the game and we a little dry. We scored nine of those 18 (first half) points in the first six minutes of the game. The rest of those nine were in the last 14 minutes. That is not great if you do the math, that is just the way it shook out.
“Either way, it was a six-point game at halftime, and I was not happy with how we played. Offensively, especially. It was a six-point game at half, which gives you a great chance to come out in the second half and play. Which we did for a lot of it.
“I just thought we didn’t make shots.”
Ryan saw his consecutive free throw streak snapped. He passed some heavy hitters in Brandon Born ’95 and Willie White ’84 before it stopped at 33, 10 shy of Chad Copeland’s record of 43 in 1993-94.
The Mocs stay on the road for a mid-week clash at The Citadel before coming back to the Roundhouse Saturday afternoon battling Mercer. Home tickets are available on GoMocs.com or consider the new “All You Can Eat” option.
Chattanooga 16-11/7-7 | Furman 22-5/12-2
“Guys are defending at a really high level and looks are just a little more difficult. Maybe you don’t get as many second-chance opportunities as you typically get. That is the nature of it. I thought both teams competed at a really high level.” – Coach Lamont Paris
“At this point, there are four games left. We have to do it. There are no questions anymore. Either you are going to do it, or your season is going to be over. It is not like it is this long process where you are figuring it out. It is the middle of February, you just have to do it.” – Grad student Matt Ryan
“Now it is just focusing on these last four games and trying to get all four if we can. We do that and we win six of our last seven and that will put us in a good spot for seeding when it comes to the conference tournament. It is just focusing on game-by-game and focusing on who we got next Wednesday to start off with and being able to go in with momentum from wins.” – Junior Rod Johnson
Check out all we heard at the link above.
3 NOTES TO KNOW
– 90th matchup all-time against the Paladins. That ties ETSU for third on the all-time opponents list behind Samford (101) and Western Carolina (95). Furman (54) is fourth on the wins against ledger behind The Citadel (66), Catamounts (66) and Bulldogs (62).
– Matt Ryan’s consecutive FT streak ended at 33 today. That’s the second-longest in school history behind 43 by Cole Copeland during the 1993-94 season. Ryan was 10-11 for the game.
– The Mocs closed three SoCon home-and-home series on the road this season. They won the first two at Samford (92-84) and Wofford (84-77). Fourth is coming up Wednesday at The Citadel.
Check out all the notables at the link above.
3 STATS TO KNOW
– Two teams combined for .183 defensive rebound percentage with a mere 11 total offensive rebounds – six for the Mocs and five for Furman. Chattanooga grabbed 85.3 percent of its hosts wayward shots.
– There were plenty of missed shots both ways. Season-low 30.4 percent performance (17-56) for UTC allowing the Paladins 40.4 percent (19-47). The two squads combined to shoot 35.0 percent (36-103) overall including just nine of 47 (19.1%) from three.
– 92.9 percent effort at the free throw line making 13 of 14. Second-best performance at the charity stripe this season behind Wednesday’s 23-24 (95.8%) against VMI. Today tied for ninth-highest percentage in the DI era at The Citadel on Jan. 10, 2013.
Take a deeper dive into the numbers at the link above.
Samford 74, at The Citadel 62
ETSU 72, at VMI 67
UNCG 67, at Mercer 55
Western Carolina 80, at Wofford 74
MBB UPCOMING GAMES
Feb. 19: at The Citadel, 7 p.m. | Current Rec.: 6-18/0-13 | Next Opp: Chattanooga (Feb. 19)
Feb. 22: Mercer (DH), 4:30 p.m. | Current Rec.: 13-14/7-7 | Next Opp: Samford (Feb. 19)
Feb. 26: at VMI, 7 p.m. | Current Rec.: 7-19/2-11 | Next Opp: at Western Carolina (Feb. 19)
*Record entering Saturday’s action