Eagles Fall to Experienced Mocs in SoCon Tournament
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Chattanooga took advantage of its Southern Conference postseason experience and took an 82-62 win over Georgia Southern in the final game of the Friday night session of the 2010 Tournament at Bojangles Coliseum. The Mocs scorched the nets for 87.5 percent (18-21) shooting from the field in the second half and finished at 67 percent for the game. Forward Ridge McKeither scored a game-high 19 points and Chris Early had 12 of the Mocs' 49 rebounds in the win. Junior forward Rory Spencer (Atlanta, Ga.) led the Eagles with 15 points and seven rebounds.
"Chattanooga played like a team that had success in this tournament and we played like we had a bad case of nerves," said Georgia Southern Head Coach Charlton Young. "The dominated on the glass and dominated inside. We had a chance at times, but missed a lot of opportunities, a lot of easy shots."
Chattanooga used its advantage and size inside and dominated with 54 points in the paint and a 49-20 margin on the boards. With the high-percentage shots coming easily, the Mocs rolled to an early lead they would not relinquish. The Eagles picked up 27 points off 24 Chattanooga turnovers, but shot only 34.4 percent for the game and left points at the free throw line (11-20). A late second-half comeback, a common occurrence for Georgia Southern, bid proved to be a little too late as UTC had the game under control.
The Mocs stormed out in the second half, picking up where they left off in the first, going on a 10-2 run to open the period behind three baskets by Ty Patterson. Eagles senior guard Antonio Hanson (Ft. Worth, Texas), who scored nine of his points after the half, hit the first field goal for the Eagles 18:37, and it would be four minutes before Spencer broke the drought with a layup. The Mocs added two more layups while Spencer added two free throws to the GSU scoring total.
With 13 minutes left in the game, the Mocs had held the Eagles to only six points in the half and pulled out to a 24-point lead, 59-35. Over a five-minute stretch, Powers scored 11 points to cut into the Chattanooga lead as the Eagles offense started to click. Tough defense energized the Eagles, but the Mocs' dominance on the boards and field goal success made it difficult for the GSU comeback. Down 22 points with 9:17 left in the game, the Eagles had three straight scoring possessions with Hanson converting a layup, Powers hitting a three and then coming right back with a layup. The Mocs, however, were right in stride with three straight scores to answer the Eagle charge, 72-48.
Hanson hit a three and Ben Drayton III (St. Marys, Ga.) popped in a long jumper to trim the UTC lead to 16 points, but a McKeither layup and three by Jasper Williams pulled the score to 80-60, Chattanooga. Spencer finished the scoring for Georgia Southern and Dante Harvey added the last basket for the Mocs.
Georgia Southern, who has not won a SoCon tournament game since 2005, came out of the gate with two three pointers as sophomore forward Colby Wohlleb (Boca Raton, Fla.) to give Georgia Southern its only lead of the game, hitting both to go up 6-0. The Mocs tied the score at six, then took the lead on a DeAntre Jefferson jumper at 13:42. Chattanooga kept a two-point margin until the two teams were tied 18-18 at the 8:48 mark of the first half, Chattanooga went on a 13-0 run coming off seven points from Ridge McKeither and threes by Keegan Bell and Josh Odem.
The Mocs went up by a dozen, 34-22, with four minutes left in the half. A three by Wohlleb, layup by Tyler Troupe (Gallatin, Tenn.) off a Johnson steal, and free throws by Johntavious Rucker (Decatur, Ga.) and Spencer cut the lead to seven, 36-29. Chattanooga brought it back to 11 with layups by Sam Watson, 40-29 at the break.
"We played until the final buzzer," said junior point guard Willie Powers III. "We didn't do what we needed to do and we didn't give ourselves the chance to do the things we needed to do to win. Coach Young is building a new program and we are going in the right direction."
Georgia Southern finished the 2009-10 season with a 9-23 overall record and 6-12 mark in the league. The Eagles broke the 18-year-old team record for three point field goals, putting up 231 this year, bolstered by 100 by Hanson. Individually, Spencer set the new standard for blocks in a single season with 62, including a career-best five on two occasions. In the season opener, Rucker topped the previous best for steals in a single game, getting eight vs. Reinhardt.
Six seniors finished their careers at Georgia Southern and Coach Young met with each one briefly after the conclusion of the game: Antonio Hanson (Ft. Worth, Texas), Krzysztof Janiszewski (Dzierzoniow, Poland), Antoine Johnson (Atlanta, Ga.), Sandy Perry (Perth Amboy, N.J.), Blake Thompson (Cartersville, Ga.) and Tyler Troupe (Gallatin, Tenn.).
A date for the end-of-season banquet will be announced in the near future. The Eagles begin their 2010-11 season at Notre Dame November 12th.
- Category: Men's Basketball
- Published on Saturday, 06 March 2010 02:21