By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – An early barrage of 3-pointers proved too much to overcome for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Saturday afternoon, as in-state rival Chattanooga (4-5) downed the Golden Eagles (1-7) in McKenzie Arena, 71-60.
The Mocs came out firing, kicking off the game on a 9-0 run behind a trio of triples. Tech got to as close as six with 10 minutes to play in the first half, but Chattanooga answered with three straight makes from downtown, ballooning the lead to double digits.
Between turnover troubles and the hot-shooting half from the Mocs, the Golden Eagles faced a halftime deficit of 40-23. Tech turned the ball over nine times in the opening stanza, while Chattanooga knocked down a fiery 10-of-22 attempts from beyond the arc.
Tech flipped the script in the second half, particularly from an energy standpoint. The Golden Eagles started 5-for-6 from the floor, finishing the final 20 minutes shooting over 45 percent from the field.
The team's defensive intensity was on full display, as the Golden Eagles forced 12 Moc turnovers to claw their way back within eight with two minutes to play. Tech also committed just four turnovers of their own over the final 20 minutes, providing several opportunities to chip away at the UTC lead.
For the game, Chattanooga hit 13-of-29 attempts from downtown and shot 45.2 percent from the field. The Mocs won the battle on the glass, out-rebounding the Golden Eagles 38-31. Tech finished the contest shooting 40.7 percent from the field, but just 29.4 percent from 3-point range and 50 percent from the charity stripe.
Tech did manage to force 18 Moc turnovers to their own 13, racking up a season-high 11 steals.
Playing in his hometown in front of a contingent of local fans, freshman Jr. Clay led the Tech scoring effort for the second-straight game. The point guard tallied 15 points while also hauling in a team-high seven rebounds and nabbing a team-high three steals.
Fellow rookie Garrett Golday earned his first career start and was effective on offense in his 19 minutes of action. The forward finished 4-of-6 from the field on his way to a season-high 10 points. Micaiah Henry added nine points on a 4-for-4 showing from the floor.
The Golden Eagles will head back to Cookeville for a two-game home stand starting next week. Tech will host Warren Wilson College on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 6:00 p.m. CT and follow it up with a 2:00 p.m. CT home tilt against Hiwassee College on Sunday, Dec. 9.
Photo by Frank Mattia, UTC Athletics