The Chattanooga Mocs used a strong second-half surge for the second game in a row to claim victory, 79-72 over visiting Northern Kentucky. The Mocs broke open a see-saw affair mid-way through the second frame rather than waiting until the end like last Monday.
David Jean-Baptiste tallied seven of his career-high-tying 25 during a 13-0 spurt taking a 46-44 advantage to 59-44 at 8:58. The final four points came from Josh Ayeni’s two free throws. He scored on the previous possession off a nice pass from Stefan Kenić bulling his way around the block.
Ayeni ended up with a season-high 14 points. Kenić also had a season best with 17 points while racking up a career-high seven assists. Marques Warrick and Trevon Faulkner led the Norse with 13 points apiece.
The lead reached 16 twice, once on a Malachi Smith layup at 5:11, and again 44 seconds later via a Jean-Baptiste jumper. The Norse did not let the Mocs come in on cruise control.
Back-to-back threes from David Bohm and Bryson Langdon followed by Trey Robinson’s steal and layup quickly sliced the advantage in half with 3:18 to go, 70-62. Robinson missed the and-1 attempt quickly got it back into double digits where the lead stayed until Adham Eleeda’s three with four seconds remaining provided the final margin of seven, 79-72.
“I didn’t really change much,” Jean-Baptiste said about his play in the postgame press conference. “It was just knowing when to attack and when to press off the gas a little. Not much changed between the first half and second, it was just when to put my foot on the gas and when to take it off.”
Kenić echoed the Miami native’s take, “Most of them were in the second half when they started pressuring us. He was calm, he was making open threes, he was going to the rim. He had an and-1, made the free throw…it was a big-time play for us.”
Jean-Baptiste scored 21 of his 25 in the second half with Ayeni also stepping up production with 10 of 14 after intermission.
Today’s game started a busy stretch of four from Saturday to Saturday this week. The Mocs hit the road to Middle Tennessee on Monday and Bellarmine Wednesday before returning home to host North Georgia next weekend. Links for video, audio and live stats for each contest is located on the men’s basketball schedule page.
“At this time of the year, I think ultimately you’d like it to be 90 percent of what you do and 10 percent of what the other team is doing,” Coach Lamont Paris shared. “We’re not quite to that level right now, we’re probably around 75-25.
“We’ll spend a lot of time on us and then we’ll give them a couple nuggets on MTSU, but we’ll spend most of our time on us and how we can improve what we do.”