CHARLESTON, SC - Justin Tuoyo capped off a solid all-around performance with 14 points, nine rebounds and six blocks as Chattanooga emerged with a 67-48 victory over The Citadel in the Southern Conference opener for both teams at McAlister Field House on Thursday evening.
A 3-pointer by Chattanooga's Martynas Bareika with just under 10 seconds remaining in the first half provided the Mocs with a 31-23 advantage as the two teams headed into the intermission.
Chattanooga (5-5, 1-0 SoCon) carried that momentum over into the second half as it built a 15-point advantage behind four points each from Tuoyo and Greg Pryor as part of an 8-1 run.
Despite a series of layups by P.J. Horgan and C.J. Bray, The Citadel (4-5, 0-1) was unable to trim the deficit under 13 points over the remainder of the half.
Tuoyo made his presence felt in the paint as he knocked down 7-of-11 from the field, pulled down six of his nine boards on the offensive glass and turned back six Citadel field goal attempts. The six swats marked the most by a Bulldog opponent since Southern Cal's Taj Gibson on Nov. 15, 2007.
Joining Tuoyo among the offensive leaders for the Mocs was Pryor, who reached double figures with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Chattanooga capped off the game by hitting 27-of-53 (50.9%) from the floor and 8-of-16 (50%) from beyond the arc.
The tandem of Horgan (17 points) and Jake Wright (14) were the bright spots for The Citadel lineup. Horgan led the Bulldogs in scoring for the second time this season by virtue of hitting 7-of-14 from the field and 3-of-7 at the free throw line. He also scaled the glass for a team-high nine rebounds (four offensive).
Wright emerged with double figures for Dogs by hitting 4-of-7 from the floor, knocking down three from beyond the arc, and finishing a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line.
The only remaining player to hit multiple field goals for the Cadets was Ashton Moore (3-7). Despite being limited to seven points he became the 31st player in program history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark in their Citadel career.
Wright accounted for 13 of The Citadel's 23 first half points as he converted 4-of-5 field goals and was a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Inserted into the lineup with the Dogs trailing 5-0 early, Wright immediately made his presence felt with a 3-pointer as The Citadel quickly trimmed the deficit to two.
Chattanooga scored 16 of the next 24 points, including a pair of 3-pointers by Pryor and Duke Etheridge, to assume a comfortable 21-11 advantage with 9:02 remaining.
Wright went on a scoring frenzy for The Citadel by hitting a pair of free throws and converted the first layup of his college career, pulling the Dogs within six.
The freshman sharpshooter continued his scoring binge with a pair of long distance 3-pointers, capping off a 10-0 run by The Citadel that knotted the two teams at 21-all.
Chattanooga amped up its defensive pressure and coupled with a series of treys by Tre' McLean and Bareika the Mocs entered the break with an eight-point cushion.
The Citadel heads into its exam period over the next nine days before heading to Blacksburg, Va., to take on Virginia Tech on Dec. 20. Two days later the Dogs square off against Big Ten foe Michigan State in East Lansing.