CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The Legends Weekend celebration concluded with an 85-76 Chattanooga win over Elon in the McKenzie Arena tonight. The 60-plus former players, managers and coaches who came back for reunion were rewarded with the Southern Conference North Division leader moving to 9-2 in league play, 13-10 overall. The Phoenix drop to 10-12, 4-7 in the SoCon North.
Chris Early (Huntington, W.Va.) scored a career-high 21 points, including a 7-10 performance from the field, 2-3 from three-point range. He led four double-figure scorers for the Mocs followed closely by Omar Wattad (Johnson City, Tenn.) with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Elon was paced by Drew Spradlin who tied Early for game-high honors with 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Chris Long added 17 points, eight assists and four steals.
Chattanooga led by as many as 17 points in the first half and lead by 15 at the break, 40-25. The Phoenix came out strong to open the second with a 15-5 run to close to 45-40 at 17:05 on a Lucas Troutman layup. Spradlin scored nine of the 15 points on three three-pointers.
Up 48-43 at 15:26, the Mocs scored on four straight possessions to get the lead back into double digits at 13, 58-45, on a Wattad three-pointer at 13:06. But Elon would not go quietly into the good night.
The Phoenix scored on five straight possessions themselves, propelling a 13-0 run over the next 2:49 to tie the score at 58-all on a Ryley Beaumont layup. The Mocs turned the ball over three times during the run.
After missing on two chances to take the lead, UTC rattled off six straight points. An Early layup and a rare four-point play by Wattad gave the Mocs a 64-58 cushion. Chattanooga eventually got the lead back to eight, 68-60, before Elon made another run.
Scott Grable's jumper at 4:45, made it 68-66 Mocs.
Keegan Bell (Hazel Green, Ala.) answered 14 seconds later with a three-pointer, his fourth of the game, to put Chattanooga back up by five, 71-66. The margin would get no closer as the Mocs held on for the 85-76 win.
Bell hit four of nine from beyond the arc in scoring 15 points to go with seven assists (just one turnover) and four rebounds. Ricky Taylor (Brownsville, Tenn.) added 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Elon hit its first three three-pointers to lead by four early, 11-7, on a Long three. A 12-2 run gave the Mocs control of the game, 19-13, on a Jeremy Saffore (Nashville, Tenn.) free throw. Up six, 24-18, UTC went on an extended 16-5 run over the next six-plus minutes to push the score to 40-23 on Taylor's layup at 11 seconds. Sebastian Koch ended the half with a layup at the buzzer to get the Phoenix within 15, 40-25.
DeAntre Jefferson (Bloomington, Ill.) and Jahmal Burroughs (New Orleans, La.) led the Mocs with eight rebounds apiece off the bench. Burroughs did his damage in the opening half with seven, while Jefferson grabbed five after the break including a stretch of three defensive boards on consecutive possessions. Chattanooga held a 46-34 advantage on the boards.
The Mocs distributed 23 assists on night, shooting 47.5 percent (29-61) from the floor and 40.7 percent (11-27) from three-point range. Wattad (4-9) and Bell (4-9) combined for eight of UTC's 11 treys.
Chattanooga picked up the pace offensively in the second half. It hit 59.1 percent (13-22) from the field and 62.5 percent (5-8) from three-land. Fourteen of the 16 free throws made came in the second half, nine in the final minutes.
Elon was limited to 41.4 percent (29-70) shooting for the game, 51.3 percent (20-39) in the second half. It hit 12 of 38 three-point attempts (31.6%).
UTC completes its three-game homestand hosting Georgia Southern Thursday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m.