The Chattanooga Mocs rolled into famed Freedom Hall 4-0 and left happy with a 77-68 triumph over Bellarmine. Despite leading for more than 34 minutes of game action, it wasn’t easy.
For the fourth straight game, the Mocs overcame a second half deficit trailing by as many as three. The big run came down one, 53-52 with 11:02 remaining, outscoring their pesky hosts 19-7. Jamaal Walker’s fifth three, and third of the spurt, made it a 71-60 lead with 3:03 to go. The Mocs never looked back.
“That was huge,” Coach Lamont Paris shared. “Jamaal’s three, which was huge…I think the clock was running down and he shot that with confidence. In a game like that, you feel like there’s a touch of breathing room, but that’s not the reality of it. That changes the whole complexion of the game.
“It takes a certain kind of team to grind and come back. A lot of things have to go your way at that point. That [run] was a pivotal exchange in determining the outcome of the game.”
Walker and A.J. Caldwell each scored 15 making five threes apiece as Chattanooga accumulated a school-record tying 17. Malachi Smith led the way with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. It’s the fourth time in five contests he’s registered a double-double. David Jean-Baptiste added 14 points and five assists.
Pedro Bradshaw led all scorers with 22 for Bellarmine. Dylan Penn chipped in 19 with six assists.
“I think the guys are confident, they should be confident because they have played pretty well,” Paris added. “At the same time, we’re not really in to making any profound statement about any sort of accomplishment or anything we’ve done. We haven’t even established who we are as a team.
“I’m happy with the way we’ve played and the outcomes we’ve had. We’ve enjoyed playing with each other, being around each other, and we’re looking forward to the next game. We know we haven’t arrived, we haven’t done anything except play well and that’s the mantra.”
This week’s four-game gauntlet ends Saturday in the Roundhouse. North Georgia visits at 2 p.m., and begins a two-game home set with UNC Asheville coming to town next Wednesday. Links for video, audio and live stats for each contest is located on the men’s basketball schedule page.