CHATTANOOGA (Gomocs.com) --- The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team got the mainland bracket of the Cayman Islands Classic off to a good start with a 67-50 win over Alabama State. And when we say good start, we focus on the stifling defensive effort of the first half.
Makinde London had 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks to lead the Mocs. Rodney Chatman and Nat Dixon added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Reginald Gee led all scorers with 24 for ASU.
It took the Hornets 17-plus minutes to escape single digits as the Mocs held a 40-14 halftime lead. The hosts started the game with a 20-4 run over the opening 12:55.
The second half turned out to be more of an adventure with 13 of the Mocs 18 turnovers opening the door a bit for ASU. It scored 16 points off those miscues, but UTC held firm.
An 8-0 Hornet run to open the half cut the lead to 20, 42-22, with 18:27 to go. After trading defensive stops, London drilled a 3pt from the top of the key to calm his squad with 16:45 remaining.
The reached 27 on Duane Moss’ triple with 13:12 left. The lead got back to 20 at 8:17 on Gee’s three, but London started an 11-2 run with a 3pt of his own. Dixon added a three-point play followed by back-back baskets for David Jean-Baptiste for a 29-point advantage, 67-38.
The Mocs went scoreless the remaining 4:41 with four of the 13 second-half turnovers over the stretch. The cushion was enough for the victory.
"I didn't like how we ended the game from an efficiency and attention to detail standpoint,” Coach Lamont Paris stated post-game. “We had been doing things that were successful, but they hit some shots at the end so you have to give them credit. There were some other things we did that weren't us.
“Those situations can be hard to play in, when you're up big and trying to close the game. Handling adversity is sometimes not as difficult as handling successes. I thought we had done a great job early in the game, the whole first half and parts of the second half, but I just didn't like how we ended the game."
Access thoughts on tonight’s game at the quotes link above.
"We just try to make it a point to sit down defensively and play our principles. We try to talk to each other more, and I think we did a good job of that in the first half. We don't try to look at the score and just play to our principles. I feel like we got away from that in the second half, so in the next few games, hopefully we'll come out strong in the second half." – Junior Nat Dixon.
Check out the full box score at the link above. Here are three notable numbers.
-The Mocs were a +9 on the boards with 31 total rebounds limiting ASU to 22. That’s the least amount of rebounds by an opponents since The Citadel (Dec. 11) and Northern Kentucky (Dec. 14) both managed just 22 in back-to-back games in 2014.
-40 field goal attempts for the Mocs is the fewest since a mere 37 in a 74-63 loss at Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 4, 2014.
-Back-to-back games exceed 50 percent from the floor (52.5%) and 3pt line (52.6%). First time since back-to-back wins over ETSU (54.0%/55.0%) and at UNCG (51.1%/50.0%) in 2016. The last time it was done in three straight was Dec. 2014 vs Montreat (55.3%/52.6%), at The Citadel (50.9%/50.0%) and back home against Northern Kentucky (62.8%/50.0%).
Tuesday night is game three of four in a row at home for the Mocs. The Cayman Islands Classic Mainland Bracket continues with Alabama State and Savannah State squaring off at 5 p.m., followed by Chattanooga vs. Jacksonville State at 7:30 p.m.
Jacksonville State defeated Savannah State 86-71 in game one tonight. Jamall Gregory led six in double digits with 23 for the Gamecocks. Dexter McClanahan led SSU with 22.
For the complete schedule, go here on GoMocs.com.