Photo by Logan Stapleton
By Will McElyea, Staff Writer-
The Chattanooga Mocs Men’s basketball team completed a season sweep over Samford with a 70-64 win at the Pete Hanna Center in Birmingham this past Wednesday.
The Mocs rode one of their strongest defensive halves of the season, allowing just 28.6% from the field and 18.2% from behind the arc while forcing eight turnovers for a total of 22 points in the first half. That season low in points for a half gave the Mocs a 25-22 lead entering the break.
The Bulldogs quickly found their mark at the start of the second half, going on a 12-0 run resulting in a 38-36 lead with 14:31 left in the game.
UTC, fueled by two threes from A.J. Caldwell, quickly responded with an 8-0 run, regaining the lead at 40-38. The next 12 minutes saw both teams go back and forth in a surprisingly offensive second half given the strong defensive play seen in the first.
The Mocs finally created some breathing room off a layup from KC Hankton followed by a Samford turnover resulting in a three pointer from David Jean-Baptiste with just under a minute to go. Samford fought back to within four but some clutch free throw shooting from the Mocs put the game away.
In the end it was a combination of balance offense and defensive effort that made the difference. Chattanooga ended the game with four double-digit scorers, led by a 16-point night from Malachi Smith. Jean-Baptiste and Darius Banks scored 12 each while Caldwell added 10. UTC scored 25 of their points off turnovers, winning the turnover battle 20-14.
The Mocs finished 41.1% from the field and 35% from three while adding 35 rebounds and nine steals. Chattanooga also proved to be effective from the line with 73.9% free throw shooting for the game, a stat the Mocs have thrived at all season, boasting a 79.5% FT mark so far.
With the win, Chattanooga Moved to 12-4 on the season with a 3-4 conference record. The win also continued UTC’s recent dominance over Samford, winning the last four games and seven of the last eight.