By Jason McDaniel, Assistant Sports Editor –
The Mocs played a full game and more to earn the win over the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) on Monday, 87-85.
The game looked bleak going into the half, as the Mocs had allowed 41 points in the first half from the Spartans and had only scored 31 themselves. Early in the second half the Mocs pulled themselves back into the game but not before the Spartans extended their lead to 11 with 14:51 left on the game clock.
UTC pulled ahead in less than five minutes and held a lead for the rest of the period until Marvin Smith hit a game-tying free throw with just six seconds left in regulation. Rodney Chatman, Lithonia, Georgia, turned the ball over and the game was sent to the first of two overtimes.
The first overtime started in UNCG’s favor as the Spartans went on an 8-0 run to give them a substantial lead with 2:19 left and the arena began to empty.
“People didn’t have high expectations for us and at the end of the day, we have high expectations for ourselves as a program and as a team,” said Nat Dixon, Panama City, Florida. “Coach Paris has high expectations for us so we go into every game and we’re going to play every game as hard as we can. We want to win the game.”
The Mocs got quickly cut the lead back down to three with 18 seconds left after Chatman shot two free throws. After the free throws the Mocs played the tightest shutdown defense they had all game and Chatman managed to steal the ball and throw it up from beyond the arc as he fell to the ground with a foul.
“He turned it over and I got my hand in there,” said Chatman. “I turned around, it was probably a bad shot, but I turned around and shot it. I didn’t see the ball go in, I fell. The crowd started cheering and I’m like okay, I got fouled so I think I got three shots. Nat walks over to me and he said ‘You made it.’”
That shot is a shot that Chatman, Dixon, and the rest of the Mocs will remember for a long time. It tied the game with 12 seconds left on the clock and sent the game into its second overtime.
The second overtime showed how evenly matched these two teams were as it featured four of the game’s 12 ties. Chatman was fouled with four seconds left on the clock, made two free throws and a missed layup by the Spartans as the clock ran out gave the Mocs the win.
Dixon led the Mocs with a personal record of 30 points and Chatman followed with 22 of his own, along with nine rebounds. Joshua Phillips, Hendersonville, Tennessee, got a double-double in the game with 10 points and 12 defensive rebounds.
UTC went to the free throw line 38 times and earned 29 points from it, while the Spartans could only manage 14 points on 18 from the line.
“We had no business winning that game, after we had no business losing it, after we had no business winning it, after we had no business losing it. Sometimes that’s how it works,” said Head Coach Lamont Paris after the thrilling win.
That’s how back and forth this game was. This game had 12 ties and nine lead changes, which gave the crowd all the more reason to erupt when UTC was up at the final buzzer.
After Saturday’s loss to VMI, coach Paris said, “We just gotta keep working on winning by one.” His team must’ve heard him say that, because they decided to win this one by two.
The Mocs advance to 8-15 for the season and 2-8 in the SoCon and UNCG falls to 16-6 on the season and 7-2 in conference play.
The Mocs head to Western Carolina on Thursday night to face off against the Catamounts at 7:30 p.m.