(gomocs.com) ASHEVILLE, N.C.---The Chattanooga Mocs got a tremendous effort off the bench in a 59-54 quarterfinal win over Samford in the Southern Conference Championships. Duke Ethridge had his first double-double of his UTC career with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Dee Oldham added 12 points, five boards and three assists.
"I've said it all year," coach Matt McCall explained. "Duke and Dee would start at a lot of places across the country. A lot of places. But they have a different role here. They accepted it, and excel in it."
Tre' McLean paced UTC with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Christen Cunningham led Samford with 18 points, as Dakota Quinn chipped in 10 points and five rebounds.
Foul trouble plagued the Mocs throughout, but down seven, 38-31, early in the second half, the squad broke through with a 10-0 run capped by two Ethridge free throws at 10:24 for a 41-38 lead.
UTC never trailed again. Cunningham tied the score at 50-all with a layup with 2:53 to go. Justin Tuoyo slammed home a Greg Pryor feed before Cunningham answered again with a contested jumper at 2:07.
Oldham took over. He drilled a three from the left side and then two free throws 25 seconds later for a five-point surge and a 57-52 lead.
It all came back to the story of the second half…rebounding and defense. After a Darius Jones-Gibson layup with 48 seconds left, the Mocs shut down the Bulldogs. In the final possessions, they forced a turnover and missed shots in securing the 59-54 final.
"I think winning the 50-50 balls is a huge difference in the game," Oldham shared. "J.B. (Burroughs-Cook) chasing down that block and coming out, getting seven straight stops are vital factors today. If plays like that don't happen, we may not be in this situation right now."
Oldham alluded to the play of the game which started on the defensive end.Johnathan Burroughs-Cook blocked a fast break layup attempt by Marcus Johnson. He quickly got the ball ahead to Oldham who found McLean on the left wing. His triple was the sixth point in the 10-0 run early in the second half.
Chattanooga limited the Bulldogs to just 18 second half points, the fewest by an opponent this season. Samford shot 33.3 percent (17-51) for the game, 25.0 percent (6-24) in the second 20. The Bulldogs had a plus-8 (20-12) rebounding advantage in the first frame, but the Mocs owned the glass, 22-12, in the second.
The win ties the school-record for victories moving the meter to 27-5. That matches the totals from the 1977 NCAA DII Championship team (27-5) and 1982 SoCon Champions (27-4).
Next up is the winner of the Wofford-Western Carolina game. The game airs on ESPN3 online and the Mocs Sports Network through 96.1 the Legend FM in Chattanooga at 5 p.m., Sunday after the Mocs women play for the SoCon Championship at 1 p.m.