Paladins See Five-Game Winning Streak End In Scenic City
CHATTANOOGA, TENN--Justin Tuoyo scored a game-high 19 points, while also posting two boards and a pair of blocks to lead Chattanooga to a hard-fought, 62-54, win over Furman in a matchup that pitted the top two teams in the Southern Conference against each other Saturday evening at the Roundhouse.
With the win, Chattanooga claimed its eighth-straight win and moved to 21-3 overall and 10-1 in Southern Conference play, while the loss snapped Furman's five-game winning streak, as the Paladins fell to 14-11 overall and 8-4 in SoCon play.
The win helped the Mocs avenge their lone Southern Conference loss of the season, which came back on Jan. 9 in Greenville, as Furman handed the Mocs a 70-55 setback. The contest between the Mocs and Paladins would be one that was not for the faint of heart, as both teams exhibited big-time toughness.
The Paladins found themselves trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half, 39-25, at the 14:41 mark of the second half after Tuoyo converted a three-point play the old-fashioned way. However, the Paladins refused to go away.
Trailing 53-43 with 4:19 remaining follwoing another made Tuoyo foul shot, but the Paladins would go on a 6-2 in just under two minutes, as the Paladins got four points from Croone on a driving layup and a pair of free throws, while Matt Rafferty also knocked in a pair of free throws, and the Paladins were within six, at 55-49, with 2:33 remaining.
Following a miss by Furman's Kris Acox on one end on a shot that looked to be partially blocked by Tuoyo, and a turnover by Chattanooga's Eric Robertson, The Paladins had the ball back in their possession with 1:34 remaining.
Stephen Croone would miss a three on the other end, however, Geoff Beans hustled down the rebound getting the ball back to Croone in the middle of the paint, and then he found one of Furman's most consistent options from beyond the arc, in Daniel Fowler, who calmly stroked home his second three of the night, and suddenly the Paladins found themselves with three, at 55-52, with just 1:10 remaining.
On the ensuing Chattanooga possession, Rafferty ended up fouling Chattanooga point guard Greg Pryor, who entered the contest as the SoCon's fifth-best foul shooter (88.5%) and he would show why, stroking home both free throws to push the UTC lead back to five, at 57-52, with 44 seconds remaining.
Furman advanced the ball quickly up the floor, and Croone's three missed off the left side of the rim, however, fortunately the ball caromed right to Devin Sibley, who rebounded the ball, layed it in, and was fouled in the process, making it a 57-54 game with half-a-minute left. With a chance to cut it to two, however, Sibley missed off the side of the rim and Chuck Ester grabbed the rebound for the Mocs and was immediately fouled. He made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to make it a 58-54 contest with 24 seconds remaining.
Furman's Croone would turn the ball over on the other end, and Croone was forced to foul Pryor immediately with just 14 seconds left. Croone's late miscue was one of 16 turnovers on the night for the Paladins. Once again, Pryor stroked home both foul shots to put the Mocs ahead 60-54. Geoff Beans' missed three on the other end with seven seconds left effectively brought Furman's valiant comeback effort to an end.
Chattanooga's Dee Oldham closed out the win by connecting on both charity stripe shots, taking a 62-54 lead with seven seconds left, and Furman would dribble out the clock without attempting a shot, as the Mocs took a three-game lead in the Southern Conference standings.
The opening half of play would see the Mocs explode to an 18-8 lead early following a Chuck Ester layup, and it looked as though the Mocs might run away with the win. But the Paladins eventually crept back into the game with a layup and a pair of free throws from Croone, who helped cut the deficit to four, at 20-16, following two free throws with 5:21 left.
McLean woud stretch that Mocs lead back to eight on a layup off the right side, at 24-16, with 3:38 remaining in the half, but the Paladins clamped down on defense the remainder of the half, out-scoring the Mocs 5-1 the remainder of the half, as Chattanooga took a 26-21 lead to the break. Furman's lone lead of the game came on a Sibley three early in the game, which followed a layup by Chattanooga's Pryor to open the scoring.
Tuoyo's 19 points came on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting from the field, while Pryor added 11 points and five assists. McLean rounded out the Mocs in double digits with 10 points and seven boards.
Croone finished the night leading the Paladins with 18 points, five assists and three boards, which included another solid 7-for-8 performance from the charity stripe. Despite foul trouble early in the second half, Sibley added 12 points The Paladins owned a 35-28 advantage on the boards, while defensively, the Paladins limited the Mocs to njust 40% (18-of-45) shooting from the field on its home floor, but Furman could only make good on 38.3% (18-of-47) from the field for the contest.
Furman held a slight edge in second-chance points (11-6), but Chattanooga owned a decisive 18-7 edge on points off turnovers, as well as a slight edge in points in the point (26-24).
Furman returns to Timmons Arena on Monday night looking to bounce back against UNCG in a game slated for a 7pm tip in Greenville, while Chattanooga will be on the road to face Mercer Monday night in a game slated for 7 p.m.