Kenic’s 19 not enough as Mocs fall to Citadel, 92-87

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs placed five in double figures but could not hold off The Citadel in a 92-87 Southern Conference loss in McAlister Field House. The Bulldogs trio of Hayden Brown, Kaiden Rice and Fletcher Abee accounted for 74 of the 92 for the home team.

“We gave them some good looks, but they also made some tough ones,” Coach Lamont Paris shared afterwards. “We didn’t get matched up in transition. We didn’t play rules on guys based on scouting reports. It just wasn’t a good defensive performance. On the offensive side, we didn’t perform well at the very end also.

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“You can’t give up almost 60 points in one half and feel like you can win the game.”

Stefan Kenić scored 19 to lead the Mocs with 17 coming in the second half. Josh Ayeni and Jamaal Walker registered new career highs with 17, while Malachi Smith and David Jean-Baptiste added 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Brown totaled a career-best 37 with 13 rebounds. Rice chipped in 21 as Abee netted 16. The threesome was 16-30 from the 3pt arc.

The Mocs had the lead at the break, but the Bulldogs started quick with a 31-18 run over the first 10 second-half minutes to go up 12, 67-55, on Brown’s jumper in the paint. Chattanooga answered with an 11-0 run with Kenić’s and-one at 8:16 closing the gap to a single point.

The Citadel rebuilt their advantage to eight, 79-71 on a three-point finish from Brown. The Mocs returned to the comeback trail from there.

Kenić drained a three to even it at 82-all with 4:26 to go. After two free throws for the Bulldogs, Smith went strong to the basket finished and drew the foul. He completed his and-one for the Mocs first lead since 37-36 at intermission.

It was 85-84 with 3:47 left. The momentum did not sustain. The Mocs managed two Walker free throws the rest of the way. Two good looks from three went awry while the hit their free throws to remain unbeaten.

Chattanooga comes home next week to host Mercer and Wofford. The Bears come to town Wednesday for a 7 p.m., tussle on ESPN+ and over the airwaves in Chattanooga via WFLI 97.7 FM and 1070 AM. Links for video, audio and live stats for each contest is located on the men’s basketball schedule page.

RECORDS
Chattanooga 10-3/1-3 | The Citadel 8-0/1-0

QUOTABLE
“I thought they did a good job. I thought Josh [Ayeni] was pretty consistent with his effort and came on strong late with some aggressive moves at the rim. That was a bright spot in the whole thing to be able to do that. We talked about having one-on-one opportunities coming into the game and we were able to produce at a pretty high clip so that was good.” – Paris on post play

“It’s what we didn’t do against VMI and what we did against Samford. The Samford game, we talked, we communicated, we had effort. We didn’t do that today. And when teams can shoot and they make one or two, they get confident. We put ourselves in a hole in the second half being down 10, 12 points. We can’t do that.” – Malachi Smith on defensive effort

Check out all we heard at the link above.

3 NOTES TO KNOW
– David Jean-Baptiste started the day tied for 26th all-time in points with Gary Stitch ’77 at 1,084 points. Today’s total of 13 drew him within three points of 25th-place Ronrico White ’15 (1,100).
– 17-18 performance at the free throw line (94.4%) is the best since 23-24 (95.8%) in last February’s home win over VMI. Top percentage on the road since 28-29 (96.6%) at Northern Kentucky on Dec. 15, 2013.
– The loss ends a run regular season run of canine mastery snapping an 11-game win streak over dog-mascot institutions, nine games in a row vs. Bulldogs specifically.

Check out all the notables at the link above.

3 STATS TO KNOW
– Pregame stat watch focused on The Citadel leading the SoCon in 3pt percentage (42.7%) and 3pt percentage defense (27.7%). The Bulldogs had season highs by an opponent of 16 threes made and 31 attempts.
– Five players in double figures for the first time this season. The last was at home on Jan. 22, 2020 in the win over The Citadel.
– 92 points is a season high allowed to an opponent, while 87 scored is the top number by the Mocs against a DI opponent.

Take a deeper dive into the numbers at the link above.

SERIES
86th meeting | Record: 67-19 | Home: 36-6 | Away: 30-13 | Neutral: 1-0 | SoCon Regular Season: 63-16
– Loss snaps 5-game series win streak. The Mocs have won 13 of the last 16.
– 20-5 in last 25 matchups.
– 14-5 this century in Charleston.
– 30 wins in Charleston are the most road victories against any opponent ahead of Samford (22), Western Carolina (22), VMI (19) & Furman (18).

SOCON SCOREBOARD
Wofford at UNC Greensboro, 5 p.m.
Mercer at UNC Greensboro, PPD
VMI at Furman, PPD
ETSU at Wofford, PPD
Western Carolina at Samford, PPD

NEXT 3 OPPONENTS
Jan. 13: Mercer, 7 p.m. | Current Record: 7-3/0-2 | Next Up: at Chattanooga (Jan. 13)
Jan. 16: Wofford, 2 p.m. | Current Record: 5-4/2-1 | Next Up: at Chattanooga (Jan. 16)
Jan. 20: at Samford, 8 p.m. | Current Record: 5-5/1-2 | Next Up: UNCG (Jan. 16)

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Angela joined the News 12 team in November of 2017 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Angela is a proud member of an Army family, which means she has hometowns all over the Eastern Seaboard. Most recently, she calls Peachtree City, Georgia, home, where she graduated from Trinity Christian School and spent her free time driving her purple golf cart. She then headed to Milledgeville, Georgia, to attend Georgia College and State University. A proud Bobcat, Angela graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication and represented her December 2016 class as one of three valedictorians. Angela comes to the Scenic City from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she worked at the NBC affiliate, WMBF News. Before the big move, she worked as Georgia College's Sports Information Assistant, which let her get paid to be the Bobcats' biggest fan. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, though, where she interned for SAV's number one station, WTOC. When she's not working, you can find Angela watching the New York Giants, Rangers or basically any other game that's on. She also loves traveling, hiking and exploring new places, all with her camera in hand. If you have any story ideas, big or small, feel free to reach out to her on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at amoryan@wdef.com."