JOHNSON CITY, Tenn.(GoMocs.com)---Casey Jones lifted the Chattanooga Mocs to a 74-71 overtime win at ETSU in Southern Conference action Saturday evening. His three-pointer with 1.7 seconds from 25 feet was the game-winner, but it was his usual hustle play that made it all possible.
“Great effort on the boards by Casey gave us a chance,” coach Will Wade said. “He really got up there and claimed the offensive rebound. He made a play after the timeout. It wasn't what we drew up, but great players make great plays.”
The score was tied at 71 after A.J. Merriweather's three-point play with 49 seconds left in the overtime period. The Mocs worked the clock and got a good look from Eric Robertson from three-point range. Jones soared over the scrum underneath to grab the board. The bench called timeout with 17.9 to go to set up Jones' heroics.
Jones himself admitted the play wasn't called for him, but as his options dwindled to pass, he saw the rim, squared up and hit the deep three from the “U” in ETSU on the floor. The Bucs got the ball in and looked for a half-court option. Ronrico White provided pressure and the shot was off for the win.
“I looked ahead and saw Marty,” Jones stated. “Obviously, that would have been a better option than me shooting the three. I saw E-Rob and Rico on the other side, and that was a better option than me shooting the three. (ETSU) played it pretty well at the end, but they didn't account for a non-shooter shooting a three at the end. I guess we played hard and Coach always says ‘Chance favors the aggressor.'
“We had a better chance of that ball going in because we played so hard.”
Jones' shot stood out, but Wade saw a lot of heroes out on the floor this day.
“Marty (Bareika) made some key threes, but he took two huge charges,” Wade added. “Eric made a lot of big shots for us. Duke Ethridge and Chuck Ester gave us great minutes off the bench. Everybody came in and contributed.
“I am really, really proud of our guys,” he continued. “That was a win based on our culture. They took the lead a couple of times on threes and we responded right back. We stared them right down and said, ‘We are not going anywhere. We are going to be here all night and we are going to keep coming.'
“I am just really, really proud of our players and everybody who contributed to this win.”
Robertson tied his career high with 20 points. White chipped in 16 points and seven assists, while Bareika tallied 13. Jalen Riley came off the bench to lead the Bucs with 18.
The Mocs led for more than 30 minutes of the game. But it was at the mid-point of the second half that they were tested. ETSU took its biggest lead of four points, 48-44, on Lester Wilson's three-pointer at 10:14.
Bareika answered with back-to-back three-pointers. The second at 9:20 got the lead back for the visitors. Robertson made it three threes in three possessions 39 seconds later to swing the score to four for the good guys, 53-49.
After back-to-back ETSU layups, Robertson tickled the twine with another three-ball. When the Mocs came back down on offense, Bareika drained his third triple to get the lead to five, 59-54, in a 15-6 run.
The Bucs battled back. They took the lead on Riley's jumper at 2:49. Robertson hit his career-best sixth three-pointer to take the lead back, 63-61 with 2:21 to go. Rashawn Rembert's tying jumper with 42 seconds left in regulation were the last points to lead into overtime.
Rembert ended up with 14 for the Bucs, while Lester Wilson accounted for 15. They combined with Riley for 47 points, which is 11 fewer than their average in league play.
Free throw shooting was pivotal. Chattanooga made 14 of 17 from the charity stripe to ETSU's nine of 20. The win puts the Mocs at 11-7, 4-1 in the SoCon, while ETSU drops to 9-5, 4-2 in conference play.
“That certainly helps,” Wade noted. “I thought (Justin) Tuoyo's four to start the overtime really got us kick-started and got us going. Two of those were front-ends of one-and-ones.”
Jones grabbed 11 boards on the night. The last was the winning play. The three-pointer was just the icing on the cake.
“It is a lot tougher to not go away on the road,” Wade concluded. “That is a big-time credit to our guys and the way we do things. We did get the last shot, but there were a lot of little plays that we made during the game that led to that last shot for us. I am just proud of the guys for making those plays and finding a way.”
The Mocs remain on the road Thursday to take on Samford in Birmingham, Ala. Game time is 8 p.m., Eastern Time, in the Pete Hanna Center. The game broadcasts online via the SoCon Digital Network and on the radio locally at US 101 the Legend 96.1 FM. Gameday links to video (SDN), audio (MSN) and live stats are available on GoMocs.com. Follow @GoMocsMBB on Twitter for live updates.