It's always a good thing when a walk-on gets the loudest ovation of the night on his home floor.
Freshman Andrew Houts scooped in a putback in the final 10 seconds for the final points of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 63-44 Southern Conference basketball win over Appalachian State before a crowd of 4,953 Saturday night in McKenzie Arena.
"Good for him to score," UTC coach Will Wade said. "We wanted to get him points and get him in the books."
Wade took to the microphone after the game, thanked the fans for their support in helping the Mocs go 12-2 at home this season. Then he said, "The best is yet to come."
It could be coming soon.
The Mocs (18-13, 12-4) secured the second seed for the conference tournament, which begins for them Saturday at 6 p.m. in the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.
Zaccheus Mason was honored before the game in a senior day ceremony and walked out with one arm draped around his mom, Latrice Mason Coffey. Then he went to work.
Mason scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his final game in McKenzie Arena. He exited the game to a standing ovation when freshman T.J. Williams replaced him with about three minutes to play.
"We wanted to honor Z. and send him out the right way," Wade said. "He played like his normal self.
"We wanted to get the two seed, and we accomplished that."
Sophomore Gee McGhee added 11 points for the Mocs. Ronrico White had 10 points and Casey Jones grabbed 10 rebounds.
Michael Obacha led ASU (9-20, 5-11) with 11 points and seven rebounds. The Mocs held ASU to a season-low point total -- and held a team below 52 points for the first time all season.
UTC's defense stifled the Mountaineers all night and especially in the second half, when the visitors managed only 14 points on 4-of-23 shooting from the floor and 6-of-17 free-throw success.
"I thought we guarded well in the second half and we overall played well in the second half," Wade said. "I'm proud of our guys. I'm proud of the effort."
The Mountaineers were more competitive in the first half.
The Mocs went on a 12-0 run to take a 20-12 lead. White hit two 3-pointers in that stretch, including a step-back to beat the shot clock -- which happened to be on the floor in the corners because the over-basket clock had a short.
ASU rallied within two points on two occasions, but UTC closed the half with a little spurt to take a 35-30 lead into halftime.
The Mocs went ahead by 10 less than five minutes into the second half and extended their lead to as many as 21 points.
Then Mason came out anbd Williams went in, followed by Alex Bran, Anthanee Doyle and finally Houts.
"Any time they're out there is a great time," White said. "It's good to see them get some acknowledgment."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter 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 ...