Using a well-balanced offensive attack and a dominant defensive effort, the Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team routed in-state rival ETSU 82-52 in the Southern Conference opener on Thursday night in front of a nationally-televised audience inside McKenzie Arena.
Following the victory, Chattanooga improves 11-3 overall and 1-0 in league play. ETSU falls to 8-6 overall and 0-1 in the SoCon. The 30-point victory was the largest over the rivaled Bucs since January 22, 2005.
“If you can do a great and tremendous job defensively, it effects emotions. I think that’s what we were able to do to some of their main guys who are used to getting comfort shots, we made them work really hard to get looks,” said head coach Lamont Paris.
“I thought that was the key to what we did today. The team was really into the game. The bench was really into it. Overall, it was a great performance from a good group of guys.”
Chattanooga grabbed a 7-6 lead at the first media timeout (15:32) after Darius Banks paced the squad in the early going with five quick points. UTC built a 20-12 lead over the next four minutes after AJ Caldwell (2) and KC Hankton combined to knock down three-straight threes in that span.
The Mocs defense kept ETSU in check over the next few possessions as the eight-point lead grew to 11, 25-14, on a David Jean-Baptiste three with 8:34 remaining in the half. UTC limited the Bucs to just a 33.3% (5-for-15) field goal percentage over the game’s first 12-plus minutes.
After ETSU cut the 11-point deficit to four, 25-21 with 7:38, the Mocs finished the opening half scoring 18 of the final 27 points to take a 43-30 lead at the break. Chattanooga held its opposition to a 34.6% (9-of-26) clip from the field and limited the three ball to a 20.0% (2-for-10) tally for the half while shooting the ball at a 48.4% (15-of-31) percentage on offense which included six threes (6-of-16, 37.5%).
UTC extended the lead early in the second half after making five of its first nine shots from the floor to build a 54-38 lead with 15:31 remaining in the game. It would continue to be all Chattanooga after the hosts defense and ability to knock down open shots continued.
Back-to-back buckets in the paint from Silvio De Sousa stretched the advantage to 64-43 at the 11:30 mark and was followed by 14-6 run that saw the home team lead by 29, 76-47 (4:20). Jean-Baptiste picked off an ETSU pass and slammed home a breakaway dunk to highlight the largest lead of the game at 31, 82-51 (2:07), before the eventual 82-52 final.
UTC dominated the hustle stats including rebounds (47-26), points in the paint (38-12) and second chance points (18-8) while also limiting ETSU to a 36.0% (18-of-50) mark from the field and a 27.8% (5-of-18) percentage from three. The Mocs allowed just four assists to the Bucs and scored 12 points off 11 forced turnovers.
Four Mocs reached double digits in scoring with Smith (17) leading the way and De Sousa (13), Caldwell (11) and Jean-Baptiste (11) following. De Sousa completed his third double-double of the season with a game-high 13 boards. Banks flirted with a triple-double after totaling seven points, eight rebounds and six assists.