Efficient Shooting Fuels UTC in 79-45 Win Over Bryan
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Bryan College men’s basketball team wrapped up the 2018 portion of this year’s schedule on Friday afternoon in an exciting match-up with NCAA Div. I opponent University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The last time the Lions and Mocs met up on the hardwood dated back to the 1968-69 season. In total, the two schools had clashed a total of 12 times. Bryan was hoping to enter Christmas break on an upset and managed to keep things close with UTC near the midway point of the opening period 14-17, but the home team rallied in the final five minutes for a 7-0 run that allowed them a comfortable double-digit lead that they controlled for the remainder of the game. At the half, the Mocs owned a 39-23 advantage. The closest the Lions would come to their neighboring contender was 13 points, 34-47, at the 12 and a half minute mark of the second frame. Over the course of the last eight minutes of the contest, UTC allowed Bryan only four points while tacking on 16 to seal the commanding 79-45 victory over the Lions.
The Mocs’ efficient 57.7 percent shooting in the first half combined with a scorching 58.3 percentage behind the arc proved too much for the Lions who connected on 32.3 percent in the opening period and were just 1-of-7 from three-point range. UTC dropped their average in the latter half, but it still impressed at over 47 percent. For the game, the Mocs shot 51 percent from the floor and almost 48 percent from the perimeter while the Lions posted a 30 percent for the game and just 16 percent from outside. The Mocs also outscored the Lions 36-22 in the paint and capitalized for 14 points off Bryan turnovers. Where Bryan gained an edge was on the boards, outrebounding UTC 42-37, including a 13-4 count on the offensive end.
Outside of the exhibition bout between the two, the Mocs are 6-8 overall and 1-0 in the Southern Conference while the Lions hold an overall record of 6-7 and an even 4-4 record in Appalachian Athletic Conference play.
Bryan’s leading scorer and rebounder EJ Bush nearly registered a double-double, finishing with a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds to go along with a lone block and a pair of steals. In the scoring column, Bush was followed by Clay Hertel’s seven points and the duo of Austin Douglas and KJ Hawkins who ended with six points apiece. Both Brandon Thomas and Isaiah McClain tallied four points, respectively, and were trailed by Keaton Dotson with three points and Noah Bartley with one point. The team’s only two assists were awarded to Douglas while he also corralled six rebounds. Both Hawkins and Hertel helped on the glass with four boards each.
Douglas wasted no time with a mid-range jumper to open up the scoring for the Lions to put them ahead 2-0. A three-pointer by Bush four minutes later helped Bryan see their only other lead of the day at 7-6. UTC responded with a trey of their own to take back control on the next possession. The Lions managed to even the count 9-9 and then 11-11 with inside baskets by Douglas and Bush, but at 14:08 the Mocs flew on top where they stayed for the rest of the day. McClain drove through the lane and used a finger roll on the opposite side of the paint to cut the deficit to three points, 14-17, with 10:23 on the clock. The Mocs countered with a 10-3 run over the next two and a half minutes for the first double-digit difference of the game, 27-17. Layups by Hawkins and Thomas with under six minutes to go before break moved the Lions within nine points of the Mocs, but UTC rattled off the final seven points of the first half to grow their cushion to 16 points, 39-23.
Chattanooga continued their dominating performance as the second half unfolded, scoring four points before Douglas took advantage of a second-chance opportunity and Dotson dropped in a three-pointer to break Bryan’s silence. Despite the Lions answering the Mocs’ makes with buckets of their own, the gap had already grown too large for Bryan to overcome. UTC began to run away at 9:33 when a three-pointer for the home team sparked a rally that was felt throughout the rest of the game. Four of Bryan’s points in the last eight minutes were collected with a layup from Hawkins and made foul shots from Bush and Bartley before UTC captured the 79-45 decision.
The Lions will tip-off the New Year on Jan. 2 when they play host to fellow AAC foe Milligan College (Tenn.). Their start time is slated for 7:30pm in Summers Gymnasium. The visiting Buffaloes will enter the game with an overall record of 7-5 and conference mark of 3-4.