A shot that will live forever. Graduate guard David Jean-Baptiste buried a highly-contested 30-foot jump shot to lift the Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team to the 2022 Southern Conference title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament, downing No. 2 Furman 64-63 in overtime on Monday evening inside Harrah’s Cherokee Center.
Chattanooga improves to 27-7 overall this season and earns a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016. The Mocs have won their 12th SoCon Tournament title in school history. Furman fell to 22-12 and will await a spot in postseason play.
A game that started slow, finished in a fashion that will be remembered forever in school history. After Furman grabbed a 68-66 lead with just 4.0 seconds left in overtime, Jean-Baptiste took the inbound, dribbled left, and fired a contested three from the sponsor logo.
That shot found nothing but the bottom of the net and sent the Harrah’s Cherokee Center, the Scenic City and college basketball watchers across the country into a frenzy. The highlight and moment peaked as the No. 1 trending topic on social media waves in the US.
“Just unbelievable. I always talk about this book that I’m going to write when this is all said and done, and the longest chapter will be titled, ‘DJB III,'” said head coach Lamont Paris.
“It’s surreal what has transpired, the good, the bad, the ugly, we’ve been all over the place as a team, and for it to come down to that, I literally am now committed to writing that book and telling that story.”
Malachi Smith was named the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament while Jean-Baptiste (All-Tournament), Silvio De Sousa (All-Tournament) and Grant Ledford (Pinnacle – Academic) all cleaned up postseason tournament awards.
Jean-Baptiste, when asked to chime in on the life-changing moment, “It was surreal. I knew I had four seconds left, tried to put myself in the best position possible just to get the shot up, and it felt like it took forever for the ball to reach the basket, but once I saw it hit the net, I couldn’t feel no more after that. It was unbelievable.”
Both teams saw a super slow start as they combined to go 0-for-9 from the field before Malachi Smith broke the scoreless streak with a floater at the 16:34 mark. AJ Caldwell and Furman’s Jalen Slawson traded threes as the score became knotted at 7-7 with 13:00 left in the opening half.
Chattanooga continued to struggle on the offensive end as the squad started 4-of-17 from the field to start the game before a David Jean-Baptiste layup made it 16-11 in favor of Furman at 8:02. The Paladins went up by us much as seven, 18-11, before UTC closed the gap to four, 20-16 (3:06).
The Paladins would close the opening half on a 6-0 run to take a 26-16 advantage into the break. UTC finished the half just 1-of-12 (8.3%) from beyond the arc and 7-of-25 (28.0%) from the field in total while turning the ball over seven times which led to nine Furman points.
Chattanooga opened the second half on a 13-0 run with the help of six points from KC Hankton to cut the deficit to five, 28-26, with 15:29 on the board, before Jean-Baptiste put UTC back ahead 29-28 at the 14:44 spot. A back-and-forth affair over the next few minutes saw Silvio De Sousa hit a driving layup to keep the Mocs ahead 33-32 (11:54).
Jean-Baptiste send the crowd into a roar with his first three of the game that extended the Chattanooga lead to eight, 40-32, with 9:38 left in the game. Furman responded with a crucial 7-0 run to pull within one before a Smith layup brought it back to three, 42-39 (6:36).
UTC extended the three-point lead to seven, 46-39, before the Paladins answered with a 7-0 run that tied the game at 46-46 with just 2:12 remaining. Silvio De Sousa, who dominated the paint all game, tipped in a missed layup from Jean-Baptiste to make it 51-48 in favor of the Mocs with 23 seconds.
Furman’s Mike Bothwell called plans for overtime as he hit a step-back three to tie the game, 51-51, just before the regulation horn and started what would be a hectic next five minutes of game play.
A back-and-forth efficient battle broke out in the extra period as the Paladins and Mocs combined to go 9-of-10 from the field in the session with the former going a perfect 5-of-5. Bothwell hit another huge shot to put Furman ahead 56-53 before Jean-Baptiste answered with a trey on the ensuing possession to tie it, 56-56 (1:59).
Furman held a 61-58 lead with just 43 seconds left before A.J. Caldwell became A.J. Caldwell and hit a game-tying three with just 24 ticks on the clock. Bothwell put the Paladins back in front with a driving layup, 63-61 (0:04), before Jean-Baptiste shocked the entire country on national TV.