UT-Chattanooga's Casey Jones (24) takes a shot against Wofford Saturday at Wofford's Ben Johnson Arena.Photo by Photo: SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Break out the brooms.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team completed a season sweep of Wofford by beating the Terriers 71-57 Saturday night in Benjamin Johnson Arena, a week after edging them at the final buzzer.
"I thought we played our best game all year," UTC coach Will Wade said. "I thought we fought. I thought we were tough. It's the most complete game we've played -- offense, defense, rebounding, everything.
"We were on our game today."
The win also has UTC atop the Southern Conference standings at 6-0 with four road victories. The Mocs (12-8 overall) have won eight straight games, the program's longest streak since 11 in 1996-97 -- the NCAA Sweet 16 season.
UTC senior forward Zaccheus Mason, continuing his candidacy for conference player of the year, posted his ninth double-double of the season with 12 points and a career-high-tying 15 rebounds. Ten of the rebounds were in the second half to help the Mocs avoid a late meltdown like the previous Saturday.
"We were getting stops and I was able to seal the defensive trip with a rebound," said Mason, who went 3-for-13 from the floor. "Coaches were telling me that I have to get every board. I was able to do that."
Junior guard Ronrico White led UTC with 16 points, while Martynas Bareika, Greg Pryor and Gee McGhee each added 10.
The Terriers (7-10, 2-3) were led by 19 points from Karl Cochran plus 11 points and 10 rebounds from Lee Skinner.
"They played a good basketball game and they drove us and we fouled too much," Wofford coach Mike Young said. "They outplayed us from early on when we were trading baskets.
"We weren't very good tonight, and I don't know what to attribute that to."
Young credited UTC's defense, which limited the Terriers to 33.9 percent shooting from the floor and forced 15 turnovers. Wade noted that UTC held Wofford without a basket for three straight possessions -- what he calls a "turkey" in reference to three straight strikes in bowling -- eight times against Wofford.
The goal for each game is four Butterballs.
"Eight is our most by far," Wade said. "Whenever we can get stops, that leads to good offense."
The Mocs made four stops in a row starting with about eight minutes to go in the first half, which helped them turn a three-point deficit into a 25-21 lead. Their advantage swelled to 36-25 before a late 3-pointer from Cochran sent the teams into halftime with a 36-28 lead at UTC's fast pace instead of Wofford's purposeful tempo.
"We always want to sprint into the half," White said. "I think we did a good job of going on a little run. Then coming out [of halftime] we want to be strong.
"You can really control a game in those last four and first four minutes."
The Mocs maintained at least a two-possession game in the opening minutes of the second half. They pushed their margin to 12 points with the last coming at the 5:21 mark.
Wofford started pressing in the full court in the final five minutes. It worked a week earlier to get the Terriers within one and possessing the ball in the final 10 seconds.
The press didn't work Saturday after Wade and his staff brushed up on late-game situations this past week in practice. UTC maintained its composure and hit enough free throws -- or broke the press -- to maintain at least a six-point lead down the stretch.
"I thought we imposed our will tonight," Wade said. "That's what you have to do on the road."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...