Mocs struggle in second half, drop their second straight at home
The Chattanooga Mocs could not match pivotal second-half spurts by the visiting ETSU Bucs in Saturday's 77-64 Southern Conference defeat. Lucas N'Guessan led the Bucs with 14 off the bench, while Donovann Toatley and Kevin Easley paced the Mocs with 12 apiece.
A.J. Caldwell gave Chattanooga a four-point lead, 42-38, with a three-pointer at 15:02. The Bucs answered scoring on six straight possessions while stymieing their hosts on the offensive end. Tray Boyd III's triple at 11:24 capped a 14-0 run flipping the score to 52-42.
The Mocs weren't done. Jerry Johnson, Jr.'s basket at 8:31 sliced the lead to four, 56-52. But the Bucs out-scored them 12-2 over the next four minutes. The spurt ended with a Patrick Good three for a deflating 68-54 lead. It got no closer than 11 the rest of the way.
"We looked tired and overwhelmed when they made a run," freshman Donovann Toatley shared. "As a collective unit, when other teams make runs, we have to be more poised in those situations and learn how to weather the storm. Basketball is a game of runs and you can't let that knock you off course. You can't hit the panic button."
The key number when all is said and done is the Bucs 18-1 advantage in points off turnover. The Mocs turned it over 14 times to the visitor's 10, but the transition played into the aggressor's hands.
"They were aggressive and we didn't counter their aggression with our own," Coach Lamont Paris said. "There were a couple times where we were in a one-man straight jacket. You have to be able to get open against one guy and then make a secondary move. They were aggressive in there, but we allowed them to be aggressive because we didn't counter it. We weren't able to score like we wanted to."
The Bucs looked to put the game away early leading by 10, 28-18, with just under seven minutes remaining until intermission. Ramon Vila drilled a 3pt from the left side of the key to spark the Mocs. It kicked-started a 13-0 run capped by Thomas Smallwood's three at 1:11. N'Guessan snapped an eight-possession skid with a basket before Maurice Commander sent his squad into the break ahead 33-30.
Chattanooga remains in fifth-place in the league at 5-6, while the Bucs stay in third with a 9-2 mark. Wofford (11-0) is in first by one-and-a-half games in front of UNCG (9-1). Furman (7-4) is fourth between the Mocs and ETSU. Samford (4-7) is sixth followed by Mercer (3-8), Western Carolina (3-8), The Citadel (2-9) and VMI (1-9).
The Mocs have a road-home split next weekend beginning Thursday at VMI. They return to the Roundhouse for Reunion Weekend Saturday against UNCG welcoming home legends from all eras of Mocs basketball. Tickets are available on GoMocs.com or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627).