By Chris King
Chattanooga, Tenn.,– The men’s basketball team continued their conference and season success with an impressive 77-58 win over SoCon foe Western Carolina.
Chattanooga did a great job of spreading out their attack– having five players score in double-figures.
The Mocs were led by junior center Justin Tuoyo, Fayetteville, Ga., who had a game-high 20 points along with six rebounds and two blocks. Junior Chuck Ester, Geismar, La., contributed 11 points for UTC, while Greg Pryor, Memphis, Tre’ McLean, Charleston, S.C., and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, Memphis, all finished the night with 10 points.
“It’s the way we need to play,” coach Matt McCall said about his team spreading the wealth. “We need to play unselfishly, we need to move on the floor and no one’s consumed with scoring. They are playing the right way and playing for each other. When we play the right way we’re difficult to guard, because the ball moves.”
The Mocs jumped out to an early 12-4 lead and wouldn’t look back from there. UTC’s lead grew to 40-26 going into halftime on 13-26 shooting from the field in the first 20-minutes and 4-9 from beyond the arc.
“The whole team came out really strong,” said Tuoyo. “We knew it was going to be a physical game, so we had had to come out early and get the first lead. And we all did that.”
UTC would come out of halftime quickly as they pushed their lead to 52-31 thanks to good ball movement and unselfishness. Western Carolina cut the Mocs’ lead down to 12 with 6:00 left in the game, but UTC proved to be too much for the Catamounts down the stretch.
A 10-0 run by the Mocs extended their lead to 68-46 with 3:59 left to play, and from there UTC would go on to close out the game by a final score of 77-58.
“We have faith in everybody that puts on a Chattanooga jersey,” Pryor said. “We have faith that everybody who sits on the bench is ready to come in and play anytime. We’re not just looking for one person to score all the points or do all the work on offense. We have faith in everyone on the floor. Whenever they touch the ball, they have the ability to score.”
The Mocs look to continue their success as they return to McKenzie Arena on Saturday to battle East Tennessee State for first place bragging-rights in the SoCon.
“I challenge everyone in Chattanooga, especially students, we need to get everyone out at that game on Saturday,” McCall said. “This team deserves it, and for these seniors, we have seven home games left and then they’re not going to be on the floor here ever again. Hopefully the city of Chattanooga can get behind them and fill our arena, because we need a great environment here on Saturday.”
*Header photo by Dale RutemeyerGoMocs.com