CHARLESTON (GoMocs.com) - The Chattanooga Mocs earned a 68-65 win at The Citadel in a pivotal Southern Conference matchup Thursday night. David Jean-Baptiste led four Mocs in double figures with 16 points with none bigger coming prior to the 0:37 mark.
 
The Citadel's Lew Stallworth, who led all scorers with 25 points, drove towards the basket. He lifted a shot that was blocked and rebounded by Ramon Vila. He got the break started. Jonathan Scott delivered the ball to Jean-Baptiste who drained it for a two-point advantage, 67-65.
 
"My heart was beating fast on that one," Jean-Baptiste said with his trademark smile wide and bright. "I have to thank my teammates for their courage to have me take that shot. In that situation, you have to be aggressive and just do what you know how to do. I felt the defender back off and then, I had enough space to rise up and shoot."
 
The Bulldogs attacked the basket again. Stallworth had his pocket picked by Scott. He passed to Jean-Baptiste who tossed it out to Maurice Commander, but a foul was called after the pass to send Jean-Baptiste to the line for the one-and-bonus.
 
The clock read 14.9 with the squad clinging to the two-point margin. The Miami native sank the first but missed the second. The Bulldogs rushed into the front court. Matt Frierson came off a screen and lofted a tying effort that came off hard. Hayden Brown grabbed the offensive board and stepped back under pressure from Scott for a three that was short. Vila cradled the ball as the buzzer rang.
 
"Maurice Commander's ability to chase Frierson, was so key tonight," Coach Lamont Paris noted. "It's so incredibly difficult to do and challenge. The hardest part is to chase him {Frierson) so hard that he doesn't feel comfortable and Maurice was all over him, especially at the end of the game.
 
"I thought Keigan Kerby provided us with some good toughness plays tonight too. He had a couple rebounds in crowds that were critical."
 
Frierson made three free throws with 3:54 to go giving his team a 65-62 lead. That was the last point the home team scored as the Mocs made five straight defensive stops to end the game. They held the Bulldogs without a field goal for the final 4:33.
 
Chattanooga led by as many as 14 in the first half. It took a 10-point lead, 37-27, into halftime. The lead dwindled with Justin Brown's slam off a nice look by Jerry Johnson, Jr., pushing it back to five, 46-41, at 14:26. Back-to-back 3pt from Frierson gave the Bulldogs their first lead, 47-46, with 11:52 left. They'd lead by as many as five, but could not hold off the Mocs in the end.
 
The Mocs got great efforts from a number of sources. Vila was quick to share the credit after the contest.
 
"Honestly, I'm really happy," Vila added. "Especially for Justin [Brown] and Keigs [Keigan Kerby]. We practice together every day with the 'bigs'. Keigs knew this was going to be an opportunity for him. He started out well, he guarded the ball, he passed and he scored. He had an amazing game tonight.
 
"Justin just does whatever Coach says and doesn't think twice about it. He's not scared of anything and he played well. He deserves it."
 
The Mocs play the final road game of the 2018-19 season Saturday at Mercer. A late Saturday afternoon matchup tipoff is set at 4 p.m., on ESPN3, 96.1 FM in Chattanooga as well as online at GoMocs.com and the TuneIn app.
 
Chattanooga completes the regular season next week in the Scenic City. Wofford comes to town on Thursday followed by a Saturday Senior Day matinee against Furman. Tickets are on sale at the link above or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
 
RECORDS
Chattanooga 12-16/7-8 | The Citadel 11-15/3-12
 
3 NOTES TO KNOW
Check out the full complement of notes at the link above.

  • Chattanooga is alone in fifth-place in the SoCon standings at 7-8…one game ahead of sixth-place Samford (6-9) and two clear of seventh-place Mercer (5-10)….top six teams earn a bye into the quarterfinals of the Ingles Southern Conference Championship presented by General Shale…a win Saturday against the Bears clinches a top six position.
  • Played without leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Easley…Easley is listed day-to-day with a lower-body injury…he's averaging 14.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest…Keigan Kerby (5 points/7 rebounds) and Justin Brown (10/5) combined for 15 points and 12 boards in his absence.
  • The Mocs 65th series win is the second most of any opponent all-time…66 vs. Western Carolina is first with 60 against Samford ranking third.

 
3 STATS TO KNOW
Check out the full stats at the link above.

  • The two teams combined to shoot 17-61 (27.9%) from 3pt range…Mocs were 9-31 (29.0%), while the Bulldogs managed 26.7 percent (8-30).
  • The difference was inside the arc…Chattanooga made 18-28 (64.3%) on its twos, while the hosts were 13-31 (41,9%).
  • The free throw line kept the Bulldogs in the game…they were +10 making 15 compared to five for the Mocs…The Citadel made 88.2 percent (15-17).

 
QUOTABLE
Check out all of what we heard at the quotes link above.
"It's a fine line in this league, it's a fine line in general and it's certainly a fine line with a team as inexperienced as we are. We have had a lot of close games and won a fair share of them. I think that's the difference between this year and last year. Last year, we were in a bunch of those close games and we fared poorly, including in this place." – Coach Lamont Paris on another close win.
 
"It definitely does. We take pride on the defensive end. Coach always tells us in practice how the small things matter. Every rebound, every possession, smart shots at the end. It shows in a close game like this one." – David Jean-Baptiste on tonight's defensive efforts.
 
SOCON SCOREBOARD 
ETSU 94, at VMI 70
at Mercer 65, Samford 62
at UNCG 79, Western Carolina 76 (OT)
 
UPCOMING SCHEDULE
Feb. 23 at Mercer, 4 p.m.
Feb. 28 vs. Wofford, 7 p.m.
March 2 vs. Furman, 2 p.m. (Senior Day)
 
SOCON TOURNAMENT TICKETS
The Ingles Southern Conference Tournament Presented by General Shale is March 8-11 in Asheville, N.C. Tickets are available here on GoMocs.com as well as the Gate 1 Ticket Office at McKenzie Arena. Chattanooga Tournament Headquarters is at the Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park.