UTC v Samford

Jamal Johnson (5) navigates the court. Wednesday, February 22, 2023.

The Chattanooga Mocs finished their home schedule for the season in a 75-70 loss to SoCon-leader Samford on Wednesday night. 

Senior Night in the Roundhouse sparked emotion for the Mocs (15-15, 7-10), who found themselves in a fight all night long. A back-and-forth game included 20 lead changes, seven ties, 39 fouls called, and 55 free throws attempted. 

UTC was once again without graduate transfer Jake Stephens, missing his 10th straight game with a hand injury. Sophomore guard Jamaal Walker also missed the game—coach Dan Earl said Walker stepped away from the team to deal with some “personal issues.”

An all-senior starting lineup began the game at a frantic pace with the Mocs and Bulldogs (21-9, 15-2) hoisting 15 shots in the first four minutes, highlighted by back-to-back threes from senior guard AJ Caldwell. The size and defense of both Walker and Stephens was missed as junior forward Jermaine Marshall opened the game three of four from three-point range. 

Marshall paced the Bulldogs all night, setting a new career-high with 28 points. He picked up some lost production from senior forward Logan Dye, who left the game early in the second half with an apparent knee injury. 

The first half was a close one as both the Mocs and Bulldogs made 13 field goals, including eight each from behind the arc. Despite shooting 32 percent from three while allowing 47.1 percent to Samford, UTC took a one-point lead into the break. 

The slugfest continued in the second half. Both teams saw their field goal percentages plummet as the Mocs shot 28.6 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from three while the Bulldogs shot 36.4 and 25 percent, respectively.

The Mocs led by as much as six with just under 12:30 remaining, but Samford’s elite defense stepped up. UTC then hit just three field goals in 11 minutes of play while the Bulldogs made their run. 

Samford junior guard Ques Glover, the team’s leading scorer, scored just eight points. After just two first-half points, Glover took over when it mattered most. With six and a half minutes to go, Glover hit a step-back jump shot to tie the game, two free throws to give Samford the lead and a pull-up jumper to put the game away. 

“Credit to Samford, they're a veteran group,” Earl said, “They played hard, we played hard, we just didn't play well down the stretch. We had some good looks, but the ball didn't go down.”

After the hard-fought loss, UTC finds itself in a crucial game Saturday at Wofford, which won the first matchup 85-80 at UTC. With Chattanooga, Wofford and ETSU all 7-10 in conference play, a win would keep the Mocs in the top six seeds to avoid playing Friday as the SoCon tournament begins in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

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