On Saturday Feb. 19, the ETSU basketball team traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee to take on the Chattanooga Mocs in their second and final time around in regular season play for the year.
In the first matchup in Freedom Hall, the Bucs prevailed over the Mocs 76-71 and looked to do the same when they met again.
And they did just that.
The Bucs defeated the Mocs and captured their first regular-season sweep of Chattanooga since the 2003-04 season.
Out of both 20 minute halves, the Mocs held a lead for less than ten minutes total. The rest of the game was dominated by the Bucs.
ETSU forced the defending Southern Conference champions to finish the first half with 20 points, a season low while the Bucs finished four points ahead. The Bucs were shooting well from the floor in the first half, finishing 45.8 percent of their shots compared to UTC’s 36 percent.
A big problem for the Mocs in the first half was their 3-point shooting. Although the Bucs were shooting 28.6 percent on seven shot attempts, Chattanooga finished the first half 9.1 percent on 11 shot attempts.
There was no looking back for the Bucs in the second half. The Bucs could not be stopped on offense and their defense made that possible. ETSU forced the Mocs to turn the ball over 19 times in the game, 14 of those being steals. Those turnovers resulted in 26 points for the Bucs.
A 17-0 offensive run in the middle of the second half was too much for Chattanooga. Towards the last few minutes of the game, the Mocs made a few baskets but the hole was too deep to get out of and they were defeated 65-51.
“They average 80 points per game at home so I didn’t think it would come to that,” said Head Coach Steve Forbes. “I don’t usually put a lot of stock in the shoot-around, but I could tell we were ready to go. I thought it would be a heck of a game like it was at our place. But, give our guys a lot of credit for that. We stayed with it defensively.”
The 1,000-point duo of senior guards A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) put on a show for ETSU as they both finished with the game high 15 points each. Senior post Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) added 10 points to the ETSU total and finished with his second-straight game being perfect from the field (5-of-5).
The team overall had an impressive game shooting. The Bucs finished shooting 53.2 percent from the field, 46.7 percent from the 3-point line and 66.7 percent from the free throw line.
Seniors Tre’ McLean and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook scored 11 and 10 for the Mocs.
“Our coaches told us to keep our composure and we just trusted the game plan,” Cromer said. “We trusted in each other, we trusted in our coaches and it came through for us.”
With this loss, the Mocs drop to 19-8 overall and 10-5 in conference play. The Bucs however move up to 22-6 overall and 12-3 in SoCon play. They are also tied for first in the Southern Conference standings with Furman.
These two teams will get their shot as the Bucs host Furman Wednesday in Freedom Hall at 7 p.m.