By Sarah-Grace Battles, Chattanooga, Tenn.—
A season-high crowd of 4,644 filled McKenzie Arena Saturday evening driving the Mocs for a 82-78 win over the Samford Bulldogs.
“No matter what, we didn’t flinch and kept playing the game. It was a big win for us,” said Head Coach Matt McCall.
Freshman Makale Foreman from Kingsport, Tenn. and sophomore Nat Dixon from Panama City, Fla. had a huge impact on the game and according to Coach McCall, both impact winning when they step on the court.
“[Foreman] has a winning attitude. During practices when we go over scouting, he’s on the baseline asking coaches questions. That’s how I know he’s locked in. For a freshman to do that, that’s special. He’s impacting winning for our team right now,” said McCall.
The impact of the younger players doesn’t go unnoticed by their older teammates. “It’s going to be a great thing for us finishing out the season,” said senior Tre’ McLean, Charleston, S.C. “You have to have depth to win and win at the level that we want to win at. Last year, we were able to go deep into our bench and this year, we are working towards the same thing.”
This is the largest home crowd on the season followed by Furman in early January with 3,495 in attendance, Jacksonville State in December with 3,370 in attendance and old-time rival Marshall in December with 3,064 in attendance.
“This senior class deserves to play in front of a crowd like that every single night. These guys sacrificed a lot to be here, they love playing here, for this town and for this university. They deserve playing in front of that crowd every night,” said McCall.
In McCall’s first season in 2015-16, he led the Mocs to eight home SoCon wins. McCall has led the Mocs to four home SoCon wins so far this season.
“We love playing at home, we have a great home crowd, they’re always into the game. They’re a huge part of us, and we appreciate them every night we’re here,” said senior Justin Tuoyo, Fayetteville, Ga.
The Mocs have won five home SoCon games in a row with their last loss being to UNCG 79-64 last February under McCall. In McCall’s two seasons combined, the Mocs are 22-1 at home.
McCall was hired in April 2015 after prior head coach Will Wade accepted the head coach position at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
The Mocs next home SoCon matchup is against VMI Wednesday at 7 p.m. before the Mocs continue SoCon play on the road at ETSU Jan. 28 and rematch their only loss this season UNCG at home Feb. 2.