Mocs get first SoCon win of the season with win at Mercer
The Chattanooga Mocs got 34 of their 70 points from David Jean-Baptiste and Matt Ryan today in a 70-61 Southern Conference win at Mercer. The duo scored 17 apiece as the Mocs out-lasted their hosts.
Ramon Vila and Stefan Kenic added 10 points each. Vila commanded the boards with nine as the Mocs allowed the Bear just two offensive rebounds over the course of the game. Djordje Dimitrijevic led all scorers with 22 points.
Chattanooga took control of the game late in the first half. Kamar Robertson’s three with 4:19 to go in the first half cut the margin to three, 26-23. The visitors held the Bears without a field goal for the next 7:27 with an 11-2 run stretching the lead to 12 on a Jean-Baptiste layup early in the second half.
The game took on a pattern the rest of the way. The Bears would threaten to make it a contest, and the Mocs always had an answer. It got to six and Kenic and Rod Johnson combined for four scores in five trips to thwart a run.
Every effort toward a sustained run fell short.
"I felt like I didn't notice it at the half because I'm a very stingy, defensive guy,” Coach Lamont Paris when asked about the 10-point lead at the half. “I wanted it to be 18. I noticed it when they made their run in the second half and cut it to whatever it was. I didn't feel like it was panic mode for us. I felt comfortable.
“It seemed like every time they made a run, we were ready to weather the storm."
The Mocs didn’t make it easy on themselves. Leading by eight heading into the final minute, they missed three straight free throws. The lead shrunk to 61-55 and the squad needed a timeout trying to get the ball across midcourt with 32.1 on the clock.
Ryan swung around a screen and went long. A.J. Caldwell delivered a perfect deep ball hitting Ryan in stride leading to the easy slam. They made seven of their last eight at the free throw line to cement the win.
Chattanooga comes home for three in a row in the Roundhouse. The stretch starts with Wednesday’s visit from Furman (Jan. 8) followed by Samford (Jan. 11) and Wofford (Jan. 15). Tickets are available on GoMocs.com as well as calling the McKenzie Arena box office during working hors at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).