Wattad's 26 help Mocs remain perfect in SoCon
GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Junior guard Omar Wattad (Johnson City, Tenn.) scored a career-high 26 points in leading the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to a 70-65 win at UNC Greensboro (0-14/0-4) Saturday afternoon. Chattanooga is now 4-0 in the Southern Conference, 8-8 overall.
Wattad's 26 paced three Mocs in double digits. Keegan Bell (Hazel Green, Ala.) had 13 points and a season-high seven rebounds, while Ricky Taylor (Brownsville, Tenn.) had 19 points and five boards.
Chattanooga out-rebounded the Spartans 45-31 for the game led by Jahmal Burroughs (New Orleans, La.) with a career-high eight. Wattad tied his career best with seven boards of his own.
UNCG was led by Aloysius Henry's 17 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Randall chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Brian Cole added 10 points off the bench.
Taylor put the Mocs up 15, 42-27, with 18:40 to play as UTC scored the first four points after intermission. The Spartans began to chip away at the lead cutting it to nine, 42-33, on two Randall free throws. Wattad's three at 14:54 pushed the lead back to 12, 47-35.
UNCG went on a 9-0 run to get within three, 47-44, on Cole's layup with 12:29 left. Wattad had an immediate answer knocking down yet another three nine seconds later giving the Mocs a 50-44 lead.
That started a mini-run (8-2) for Chattanooga as it built the lead back to nine, 55-46 on another Wattad three-pointer at 10:13. The Spartans would not wilt.
Aaron Brackett's jumper following an offensive board of his own missed free throw diced the lead to four, 57-53. Taylor and Wattad scored layups to double the cushion to eight, 61-53 at 7:01.
UNCG continued to battle. Henry's dunk with 5:03 to go made it a three-point contest, 61-58, Korey Van Dussen hit a jumper at 2:19 to get the Spartans within two, 63-61, Henry tied it at 63-all on the Spartans next possession, but the Mocs made the plays down the stretch.
After Henry's basket tied the score, Chattanooga got the ball in quick and Bell found Taylor streaking upcourt. Seven seconds after the score was tied, Taylor calmly sank two free throws to give UTC the lead for good. Wattad made three of four free throws in the final 10 seconds to cement the five-point win.
Wattad made five three-pointers on eight attempts. He and Bell (4-6) combined to shoot nine of 14 from three-point range, while the rest of the team shot one for 13.
Both teams played strong defensively. While the Mocs managed to shoot just 37.9 percent (22-58) from the floor, they also limited the Spartans to 35.2 percent (19-54), 25.0 percent (5-20) from three-point range.
UNCG scored the first eight points of the game, but the Mocs turned it around with a phenomenal defensive run. Chattanooga limited the Spartans to just one field goal for 10:17 to go on a 27-4 run.
The Mocs led by as many as 15 points in the first half. Bell and Wattad scored 12 apiece as they combined for 24 of the team's 38 points before the break.
Chattanooga returns to the hardcourt on Thursday, Jan. 13, at The Citadel for the first of three games in five nights. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m