CHATTANOOGA--- (gomocs.com) -- The Chattanooga Mocs didn’t exactly take the easy route to tonight’s 87-85 double overtime win over visiting UNCG. The definitely took the road less traveled, and it certainly made all the difference for the raucous crowd who endured the tumultuous tides this evening.
Nat Dixon led the way with a career-high 30 points. Rodney Chatman added 22 points and nine rebounds, while Joshua Phillips turned in his first career double-double of 10 points and 12 boards. Francis Alonso led the visitors with 20, and Isaiah Miller came off the bench to record 17.
The Mocs came back from 11 points down in regulation, but couldn’t complete it. Down 49-38 with 14:51 to play, they locked down on defense and scored at a steady rate. The good guys out-scored the Spartans 24-7 over the next 13:12 for a six-point advantage, 62-56.
UNCG scored seven of the final eight points to get it to overtime. The Mocs missed just five free throws in the second half and overtime, but they all came when it was noticed most. They were 1-4 at the charity stripe in the final 15 seconds as Miller and Marvin Smith converted five points sandwiching the struggles at the line.
The Spartans took control during bonus time leading by as many as eight. It was seven, 75-68, after Demetrius Troy free throws with 34 ticks to go made it 75-68.
Dixon scored a layup eight seconds later and the Mocs were forced to foul. Smith stepped the line and missed the front end of the one-plus-one. Chatman rebounded and was fouled with 18 to play. He made them both to cut it to three, but just 18 seconds remained.
The ball was in-bounded to Alonso who was immediately trapped. Chatman made the steal and then hoisted a triple that banked in as he was fouled.
"I was off-balance,” he stated. “I just threw the shot up and it fell. I didn't even know I made it. I stood up and Nat [Dixon] said I made it. I heard the crowd and thought they were just happy I got fouled. I'm glad it went in."
The free throw was off the mark and the Mocs defensive stop at the other end sent the game in extra, extra time.
"We kept scrapping and playing,” Coach Lamont Paris said. “That ball was right in front of our bench, so we had a good view. I didn't even see it go in, I was focused on the play and how hard Rodney was getting after the ball.
“That was great to see…so tenacious. We came up with the ball and that was great. Fortunately for us, they were also going for it aggressively. They couldn't back off. Luckily, Rodney [Chatman] made it and got fouled. What a wild play. That was one of the wildest plays I've ever been around.
“I didn't see it, I just heard the crowd and said, 'that must have gone in.' What a game."
It was back-and-forth in the final frame. It was knotted at 85-all on Miller’s jumper with 50 seconds left. The Mocs turned it over on the ensuing possession, but got the stop they needed defensively. Makinde London rebounded the Garrett Collins miss from three and handed the ball to Chatman.
The sophomore stormed through the defense breaking for the basket. His aggression was key as he forced a blocking foul on Alonso. Chatman’s free throws were true with 4.3 to go. Miller got into the paint, but his shot was off for the 87-85 victory.
"You have to be resilient, and [Chatman] was resilient,” Paris summed it up. “I couldn't be prouder of him. And to go back and stick his face in there and do it again, that was tenacious. He made a couple big free throws when we needed him to.
"I thought that was huge. I thought the same thing last game. If we could find a way to manage that situation and move forward with a win. To finally do that, it feels great and it's really important for our overall growth and improvement.”
The 11-point come-from-behind win is the largest since 2015. The Mocs were down 12 at UNCG on Feb. 28 before winning on a buzzer-beating 3pt by Ronrico White ’15 from the top of the key.
ON THE RECORD
Chattanooga: 8-15, 2-8 in the SoCon – UNCG: 16-6/7-2
In Chattanooga: 14-6
SoCon Regular Season: 20-15
Last 10: 6-4
“It's so important for situations like this to happen and particularly when you come out on the right side of it. We won't be too high or too low the next game. I hope we get another close game next time we go out. By my account, that's 10 one-possession games. That's a lot for any team. When you have a young and inexperienced team, you're not used to coming out on the right side of it. When you do, great, put it away in the bank. It really helps us moving forward." – Coach Lamont Paris.
"It feels good. Even when we were down, we could have put our heads down. Rodney hit that big three in the corner. Makale played such good defense tonight. Makinde and Josh dominated the boards. Everyone kept fighting on this team, that's what I love about these guys. We aren't going to give up and play to the very end. It feels great to get a win tonight." – Nat Dixon on the win.
at Wofford 73, Western Carolina 68
ETSU 73, at The Citadel 71
at Samford 93, VMI 79
It’s back to the road this weekend with the Smokey Mountain Swing. Thursday night’s game at Western Carolina is a doubleheader along with our ladies. They tip off at 5 p.m. It’s on to ETSU from there with a 4 p.m., start on Saturday. The games broadcast on the WatchESPN app (ESPN3).