Chattanooga holds on for a 59-57 win in home opener
The Chattanooga Mocs overcame a cold shooting night to win 59-57 over Tennessee State Saturday afternoon in McKenzie Arena. The squad made just 35 percent (21-60) in the triumph.
It was so much the percentage as the timeliness. Matt Ryan and David Jean-Baptiste each hit late threes combining for just three the entire night.
Ryan’s came from the top right breaking a tied game with 1:27 to go. TSU answered at the other end to get back to within one, but the Mocs worked the clock on the ensuing possession. The ball was worked into the post late in the shot clock. Ramon Vila backed his man to the paint as Jean-Baptiste drifted into a shooting lane. Vila kicked it out and Jean-Baptiste drained it for a four-point advantage, 58-54 with 32.1 remaining.
"Those were big shots by both of those guys,” Coach Lamont Paris said in his post-game press conference. “I felt like we were due for one of those to go in. We had a lot of quality shots that didn't go in at multiple times during the game.
“Those guys had good confidence and continued to shoot and we created well. The one was a great pass, it was unselfish basketball in a big moment like that. We've struggled shooting the ball the last two games, but those two tonight were huge shots for us."
The Tigers wasted no time. Carlos Marshall, Jr., blew through the defense hitting a pull-up jumper in the paint to get the lead back to just two, 58-56, with 25.6 left. The Mocs played a great game of keep away until Maurice Commander was fouled with 8.5 on the clock. He made the second of the two free tosses for a 59-56 advantage.
Commander then played excellent defense forcing the Tigers to eat up a lot of clock. The ball worked its way to Marshall again but A.J. Caldwell made a heads-up play. One second was on the clock when Caldwell fouled the junior up three on the scoreboard. He made the first and his intentional miss on the second came out high and into the waiting hands of Jean-Baptiste.
Ryan and Jean-Baptiste had 11 points apiece. Rod Johnson added 10 points and 11 rebounds. Marshall had a game-high 16 points for the visitors supported by Jy’lan Washington’s 10.
The Mocs are back in action Tuesday night with a quick trip to Troy for a 7 p.m., tipoff. The game airs on ESPN+ and WFLI 97.7 FM and 1070 AM. The squad returns to the Roundhouse next Friday welcoming South Alabama.