Chattanooga's combo of Z. Mason and Dontay Hampton combined for 15 of the team's final 17 points as the Mocs earned a hard fought 70-65 victory over The Citadel at McAlister Field House on Saturday evening.
Mason energized the Chattanooga lineup with nine of his team-high 15 points down the stretch, connecting on a long-range 3-pointer and following with a jumper in the paint to give Chattanooga a 64-62 lead that they would not relinquish. Hampton was instrumental with a pair of 3-pointers for the Mocs, who also took advantage of six free throws in the final 23 seconds of the contest, to help move UTC to 7-9 overall and 2-1 in Southern Conference play.
The Citadel (3-10, 0-3) lineup was anchored by the freshman play of Matt Van Scyoc (20 points) and Raemond Robinson (15 points). Joining along in double-digit scoring were Mike Groselle (13 points) and Stephen Elmore (11 points), as the Bulldogs hit 23-of-53 (43.4%) from the field and 8-22 (36.4%) from beyond the arc.
Van Scyoc established his season-high after hitting 6-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. He also hauled in six rebounds, dished out three assists and had a pair of rejections. Robinson, in his first collegiate start, responded to the challenge of Citadel head coach Chuck Driesell by hitting 5-of-12 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, along with four rebounds.
Groselle posted another solid outing, hitting 6-of-9 on the offensive end and adding seven rebounds (three offensive), three steals, two assists and one block. Elmore also made his presence felt in the post by hitting 5-of-6 from the field to go along with six rebounds and two assists.
As a unit The Citadel finished with 19 assists, led by Marshall Harris' five, marking the most assists in a game this season since 31 against Union. The Bulldogs slip to 3-10 overall and 0-3 in the SoCon.
Clinging to a slim 29-28 lead at the intermission, UTC's Drazen Zlovaric provided a little breathing room with a layup to open the second half following a pass from Gee McGhee.
The Bulldogs quickly responded with back-to-back buckets by Groselle and Robinson, who connected on a 3-pointer, to assume the 33-31 lead.
UTC scored seven of the next 12 points in the game to knot the game at 38-38 just 4:38 into the second half.
Van Scyoc buried the first of two 3-pointers in less than a two minute span to forge The Citadel in front 51-42 with 12:29 on the clock.
Hampton briefly halted a 6-0 Citadel run with a pair of free throws, just before Van Scyoc nailed his third trey to provide the Cadets a 54-44 advantage.
The duo of Mason and Ronrico White teamed up for the next nine unanswered Chattanooga points, drawing the Mocs within one, 54-53, with 9:26 remaining.
Groselle ended The Citadel drought with a layup, following a pass from Janeil Jenkins, and after a pair of Robinson free throws the Bulldogs held a 58-53 lead.
It was there that Mason and Hampton made their presence felt by combining for Chattanooga's next 11 points and despite buckets by Robinson and Elmore, UTC lead 64-62 with 1:09 on the clock.
The Mocs allowed just three Citadel points over the remainder of the game, all of which came from the free throw line, to avenge a 48-46 loss at the hands of the Bulldogs last season at McKenzie Arena.
Van Scyoc opened the first half with 10 points, connecting on 2-of-6 from beyond the arc, to go along with a team-high six rebounds. He was joined in scoring by Robinson, who capped off the frame with eight points after hitting 3-of-6 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers.
The Citadel closed the half by hitting 10-of-28 from the field, knocking down four treys. The Bulldogs climbed the glass for 17 total rebounds, snagging eight on the offensive glass. Another key for the Cadets success came from the free throw line, where they were 4-of-4.
Chattanooga also hit 10-of-28 from the floor in the first half, netting four 3-pointers. The Mocs were led in scoring by Zlovaric, who tallied six points after connecting on both field goal attempts and a pair of free throws. He was joined by Cobb, who added five points, while teammate Jared Bryant posted six rebounds, including four on the offensive glass.
The game of runs began early on as consecutive 3-pointers by Eric Robertson and Hampton provided Chattanooga with a 12-6 lead at the 13:43 mark of the first half.
The Citadel retaliated with a jumper by Groselle and following a 3-pointer off the hand of Van Scyoc the Dogs were had pulled to within one in just over a minute of action.
Chattanooga answered The Citadel rally with a 10-1 surge that included back-to-back treys by Farad Cobb and White, making for the 22-13 difference.
The Citadel put the clamps on defensively by allowing just seven points over the remaining 6:54 of the half and combined with a pair of 3-pointers by Robinson, the margin at the half was trimmed to one.
The Bulldogs will experience a quick turnaround as they host Samford on Saturday evening at 7:05 p.m.