Easley paces Mocs to SoCon win at WCU
CULLOWHEE, N.C (GoMocs.com) -- Freshman Kevin Easley scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Chattanooga Mocs to a Southern Conference road win at Western Carolina Thursday night. It was a hard-fought win with the Mocs making the plays they needed down the stretch.
The visitors led at the half, but a slow start put them in a hole early in the second half. Carlos Dotson capped an 8-2 run with back-to-back buckets to get the Catamounts ahead 41-38 with 15:48 remaining. The game was tied, 53-all, just inside the eight-minute mark with the Mocs losing what had been an eight-point first-half advantage.
“The guys fought, they were resilient even after the second half didn't start great,” Coach Lamont Paris shared. “I thought we did a great job of responding and grabbing momentum back quickly. The guys were able to rally, and I thought they played with togetherness and were very well connected tonight.
“Multiple guys stepped up.”
A.J. Caldwell’s 3pt with 7:19 to go jump-started an 11-1 run. David Jean-Baptiste added a strong take to the basket and a 3pt in front of the bench before Easley scored in the paint to extend it to 64-54 with 3:48 left. Jean-Baptiste and Donovann Toatley answered Catamount scores with a three and a driving layup, respectively, to keep any doubts from creeping in.
"Being down in the second half, a big thing for us as a team was to just stay calm,” Jean-Baptiste added. “We wanted to stay calm and play like how we know how to play. Offensively we were very comfortable because we know a lot of guys can make plays. A.J. [Caldwell] made a big three, Thomas [Smallwood] made some big threes.
“It was just us staying confident and staying calm."
Jean-Baptiste scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half. Ramon Vila added 10 points and seven rebounds. Dotson led the Catamounts with 18 points and 14 boards, the most by an opponent this season.
Chattanooga remains on its Smokey Mountains swing taking on ETSU Saturday in Johnson City. Game is 4 p.m., with the game airing on ESPN+ and 96.1 FM as well as the TuneIn app. The squad returns to the Roundhouse on Saturday, Jan. 12 with a visit from Samford. Tickets are available on GoMocs.com or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
Chattanooga 7-9/2-1 | Western Carolina 3-13/0-3
3 NOTES TO KNOW
Check out the full complement of notes at the link above.
- Fourth consecutive game shooting 50 percent or better from the field…last time with four in a row was Feb. 2007 with the final game of that string also coming at Western Carolina…shot 24-47 (51.1%) tonight…114-222 (51.4%) over this stretch.
- -10 on the boards grabbing 27 and giving up 37…3rd time with a double-digit deficit on the glass (-13 at No. 8 Michigan & -12 at UNCG)…last time the Mocs won when beat by 10 or more on the boards was at VMI (74-68) in Feb. 2017.
- 92nd meeting with Western Carolina leading the series 66-26…only more frequent opponent for the Mocs is Samford (97).
3 STATS TO KNOW
Check out the full stats at the link above.
- The Mocs shot 11-22 from 3pt range (50.0%) tonight…7th time this season, sixth in eight games, making 11 or more.
- 32 second half points allowed to the Catamounts…last four DI opponents averaged 48.5 points after intermission.
- 10 turnovers is second-lowest number against a DI opponent this season behind eight in the win over VMI…+5 in turnover margin forcing Western into 15.
Check out all of what we heard at the quotes link above.
"It felt good. We made plays when it came down to around the seven-minute mark, slightly before and after too, we made some shots. We made some good plays to get those shots. I thought the personnel from the offensive standpoint was a huge help in regards to how Western was guarding." – Coach Lamont Paris on getting the road win.
"That's all coach kept talking about ahead of the road trip. As a team, the five guys in blue, we have pride in defense. We had to take pride in defense tonight because we knew it was a big game. We just locked in on defense big time." – Freshman Kevin Easley on limiting WCU to 32 second-half points.
at Wofford 112, The Citadel 81
at ETSU 81, Samford 72 (OT)
at Furman 71, Mercer 58
Saturday, Jan. 5: at ETSU, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 12: Samford, 4:30 p.m. (DH-Women vs. ETSU, 2 p.m.)
Thursday, Jan. 17: Mercer, 8 p.m. (DH-Women vs. Wofford, 5:30 p.m.)