LEXINGTON, Va. (GoMocs.com) -- The Chattanooga Mocs held off a pesky VMI squad earning a 74-68 Southern Conference road victory Wednesday night. They did it with timely shooting and by limiting the Keydets star guard Q.J. Peterson.
While the Mocs held the lead for nearly the entirety (38:49) of the contest, VMI would not go away. Tre' McLean sent the squad into halftime with a nine-point advantage, 34-25, on a buzzer-beating 3pt. Three of his career-high five triples were just ahead of the shot or game clock.
The Keydets nibbled away at the lead getting within two, 49-47, on a Keith Smith free throw at 11:07. Chattanooga out-scored their hosts 14-6 over the next six-plus minutes for a 10-point lead, 63-53. McLean's three-point attempt rimmed out and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook's layup was just off the mark to extend it past 10.
VMI broke out of a 2-for-10 slump with five quick points on a Peterson layup and Julian Eleby three with 3:51 remaining to cut the margin in half, 63-58. McLean drilled his fifth triple to calm the proceedings.
It would not be easy. Two Armani Branch free throws cut the lead back to four, 68-64, inside 40 seconds to go. The Keydets fouled Burroughs-Cook in the frontcourt with 29.5 ticks left. He hit both ends of the one-and-bonus. The defense forced a turnover setting up two more Greg Pryor free throws nine seconds later. Chattanooga was 6-for-6 in the final 30 seconds to cement the win.
McLean led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds. Greg Pryor and Casey Jones also scored in double figures with 16 and 12, respectively, while 2-time SoCon Defensive Player of the Year Justin Tuoyo added six blocks.
In the first meeting, Peterson torched the Mocs for 40 points. He was held to just 12 tonight. Branch tallied 23 points with nine boards. Eleby chipped in 14 points, while Trey Chapman added 10 points and nine rebounds.
This Saturday's ETSU game includes the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 1977 NCAA Division II National Championship squad. The Mocs plan a commemorative t-shirt as well as a fantastic ticket bargain.
General admission seating is just $5 with kids who come to the game in their youth jersey admitted free. Call (423) 266-MOCS (6627) or click the link above.
Chattanooga – 19-7, 10-4 in the SoCon. VMI – 6-19, 3-11 in league play.
STAT OF THE GAME
Mocs limited VMI star guard Q.J. Peterson to 12 points after his scored 40 in the first meeting. Click the stats link above for a complete look at today's statistics.
"Tremendous effort by [Johnathan] Burroughs [-Cook], Rodney [Chatman], and Nat [Dixon]. Not many times he [Q.J. Peterson] is going to have 12 points at the end of the game. It was just a terrific defense effort by our guys."" – Senior Tre' McLean. For more thoughts from coach and student-athletes, click the quotes link above.
The Mocs are one win away from the 20th 20-win season in school history and third in a row. For further breakdown on stats and facts from today's game, click notes link above.
at ETSU 79, Samford 77
at UNCG 74, Wofford 55
Furman 74, at Western Carolina 62
Saturday, Feb. 18 vs. ETSU. Tipoff is at 5 p.m., airing on the WatchESPN app (ESPN3) as well as locally on the airwaves on Real 96.1 FM in Chattanooga. Links to live stats, video and audio (Mocs Sports Network) are on GoMocs.com's men's basketball schedule page.