Tuoyo leads Mocs past Paladins in OT, 74-71

Tuoyo leads Mocs past Paladins in OT, 74-71

February 6th, 2015 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

UTC Mocs logo

UTC Mocs logo

A week after allowing the first six points of overtime and losing a Southern Conference road game at Mercer, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team found itself in a similar situation Thursday night at Furman.

This time the Mocs scored the first four points in overtime and won 74-71 in front of 1,001 fans at Timmons Arena in Greenville, S.C.

UTC (16-8, 8-2) stayed a game behind first-place Wofford, which defeated East Tennessee State 74-64, and a game ahead of Mercer, which won 76-53 at The Citadel.

The Mocs' Justin Tuoyo scored a career-high 20 points, adding seven rebounds and two blocked shots. All but two of his points came in the second half and overtime periods.

Casey Jones added 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Ronrico White scored 12 points and Eric Robertson added 11 on 3-for-7 shooting from 3-point range.

White's 3-pointer with 3:07 to play made him the 20th player in UTC Division I history to top the 1,000-point mark for a career. He is three points behind Ashley Champion (2003-04) for 19th place.

"Rico and Greg (Pryor) came to me at halftime and said, 'We need you aggressive in second half," Tuoyo said on the postgame radio show. "I tried to do everything I could to get a win, and it worked out perfect."

The Paladins (7-15, 4-7) shot a higher percentage than the Mocs and outrebounded them by nine (41-32). The Mocs countered that by scoring 14 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds and 20 points off 13 Furman turnovers.

"It wasn't a work of art, but good teams find a way to win this game," UTC coach Will Wade said. "After the game, I compared tonight to last year's Samford game at Samford: We weren't great but made enough plays and got a key stop at the end. It wasn't a thing of beauty by any stretch, but it's a win, and that's what matters.

"We've got to get better before Saturday or Saturday won't be a win."

The Mocs travel to Western Carolina on Saturday. The Catamounts blew a 21-point lead and lost at home to Samford on Thursday.

The Paladins jumped to an 11-2 lead. The Mocs rallied, primarily with their bench, to gain a 25-19 lead, but Furman used an 8-0 run to build a six-point advantage in the final minute of the first half.

The teams went into the break tied after 3-pointers by Robertson and White, the latter at the buzzer.

Neither team led by more than five in the second half. The Mocs held a 55-50 advantage after a Robertson 3, but the Paladins answered with a 9-0 run. UTC followed with an 8-0 spurt to hold a 63-59 lead with 3:07 remaining, but Furman responded again, this time with six points in a row.

Stephen Croone, who had a game-high 31 points, went to the line with his team up by a point, split a pair of free throws with 46 seconds to go, and Jones scored a layup with 37.2 seconds remaining to tie the game, sending it into overtime.

Tuoyo started the extra period with a layup, and Pryor hit a short jump shot for a four-point edge. Four points by Croone quickly tied the game again at 69, but Jones added a layup before Tre' McLean broke the Furman press and found Tuoyo wide open for a dunk.

Fowler scored on a layup, and the Paladins quickly fouled White, who split a pair at the line. Furman coach Niko Medved called time out with 5.6 seconds to go and called a play for Croone, who missed a 3-pointer. Geoff Beans had another opportunity, but UTC's Lance Stokes pressured the shot, causing the miss.

"This is how life on the road is," White said. "Furman came out aggressive and ready to play. We did a good job of fighting back; it's a sign of a team growing up, winning games like this.

"Things didn't go our way early, but we showed some resiliency."

Fowler was the only other Paladin in double figures, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.


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