Chattanooga, Tenn. – Chris Early scored a career-high 23 points and Chattanooga held Furman to 7-of-32 shooting from three-point range as the Mocs downed the Paladins, 75-59, in Southern Conference men's basketball action on Monday evening at The McKenzie Arena.
With the victory, Chattanooga improved to 15-14 overall and 11-5 in the SoCon while remaining unbeaten (8-0) at home against SoCon opposition this season. Furman slipped to 20-8 overall and 12-5 in league play dropping a decision to the Mocs for the first time in the last four meetings.
The Mocs used a 14-3 spurt late in the first half to open up a 38-26 margin at intermission. Chattanooga scored seven of the first nine points in the second half to increase its lead to 17 points at 45-28 before back-to-back treys from Amu Saaka and Noah States trimmed the lead to 11 with under 17:30 remaining.
Furman trailed just 47-36 with over 16 minutes to play following a pair of Saaka free throws, but the Paladins failed to cut into the margin further on their next three possessions and Chattanooga reeled off a 13-2 run to put the game out of reach. Keegan Bell drained a couple of threes during the run and Early, who added a game-high eight rebounds to his 23 points, capped the Mocs' outburst with a pair of free throws to give UTC a 60-38 lead with 11:05 left.
Early connected on 7-of-10 field goal attempts and made 9-of-11 free throws for the Mocs who outscored Furman 21-8 at the charity stripe. Bell and Omar Wattad totaled 14 points each while Ricky Taylor rounded out the Mocs' double figure scorers with 11 points.
Chattanooga shot 48.9% from the field, including 10-of-19 from three-point range. The Mocs dominated the glass earning a 39-26 rebounding edge to go with a 21-for-31 effort at the foul line.
Furman, 22% from beyond the arc, shot just 38,6 from the field and made 8-of-10 shots at the foul line. States , 8-of-10 from the floor, poured in a career-high tying 20 points while Saaka added 10 points.
Furman closes out the regular season on Saturday when it hosts Wofford in a 2p.m. contest at Timmons Arena. The winner will earn second place in the SoCon South Division standings and a bye in the opening round of the SoCon Tournament which will be held March 4-7, in Chattanooga. Saturday's game, set to be televised live on SportSouth, is sold out.
Paladin fans can follow all of the action versus the Terriers with the "Voice of the Paladins" Chuck Hussion on the Furman Sports Network at WGOG-FM 96.3 and WOLT-FM 103.3. Furman basketball can also be heard through Stretch Audio at www.furmanpaladins.com.