CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (GoMocs.com)---And the beat goes on for the Chattanooga Mocs. The winning streak reaches 10 with a 77-67 win over visiting UNCG Saturday night. Chattanooga is now 8-0 atop the league standings, 14-8 overall.
They picked a great night to do it. The Scenic City supported its team to the tune of 6,648 in attendance. That's the largest crowd in McKenzie Arena since 9,234 came out on January 28, 2009 when Stephen Curry and Davidson came to town.
"I want to thank the fans," Head Coach Will Wade said. "They were awesome. The sides were full and some of the upper deck. It was just a tremendous environment for college basketball.
"Basketball-wise, I thought we played pretty well in the first half," Wade added. "In the beginning of the second half we got out-toughed and they just drove it at all on us. But we were able to turn the tide down the stretch.
"It was a good blue collar win."
The crowd was treated to a splendid finish from the home team. Casey Jones' (New Orleans, La.) 22 points and career-high five steals paced the Mocs tonight. Tevon Saddler led UNCG with a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds.
Kyle Cain gave the Spartans a 56-55 lead making one of two free throws with 6:32 to play. Jones put Chattanooga back on top for good, scoring on consecutive possessions with two free throws and a layup over the next 37 seconds.
Saddler's layup at 4:45 cut the margin back to two, 63-61, but the crowd spurred their Mocs on. A Jones jumper and Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.) three-pointer started a 10-2 run to get their squad up 10, 73-63, with 1:22 remaining. The teams split free throws down the stretch for the 77-67 final.
"Our guys believe they are going to win," Wade noted. "They have put in the work. A lot of the credit for this win goes to Coach (Greg) Goldin, our strength coach. We are winning the end of these back-to-back games.
"We believe in ourselves and we believe we are going to counter punch."
Mason had 15 points and six boards to go with three blocks which is just north of his conference-leading 2.9 average. Martynas Bareika (Kedainiai, Lithuania) added 12 points, while Ronrico White (Knoxville, Tenn.) tallied 11 points and four assists. Lance Stokes (Orlando, Fla.) had a game-high eight rebounds. The Mocs forced 18 turnovers leading to a 29-13 advantage in points off turnovers.
Kayel Locke and Cain joined Saddler in double digits with 14 and 11, respectively for the Spartans. Nicholas Paulos had seven rebounds to join Saddler for team-high. UNCG out-rebounded its hosts 39-33.
"I thought Lance Stokes was phenomenal today," Wade concluded. "He had seven points and eight rebounds. Nobody will want to talk to him, but he was the player of the game. He was the best. He was energetic, he was all over the court and he got rebounds. It was his best game. He was an unsung hero."
Chattanooga led 39-28 at the break. It used a 10-0 run to go up by a game-high 13, 37-24, on a free throw from Stokes at 1:56. The Spartans hit their first seven shots en route to tying it up 40-all with 16:32 left in the game. It took its first lead since the since 9-8 at 14:22 in the first half on a Cain layup at 12:19 for a 48-46 advantage.
But the Mocs would not be denied extending their 10-game win streak. It is the longest since the Mocs reeled off 11 in a row during the 1996-97 NCAA Sweet 16 season. It's also the ninth run of 10 or longer in school history.
Chattanooga hits the road this week for one game before returning to McKenzie Arena next Saturday night. It's at second-place Davidson on Thursday, and then hosts Furman two nights later with both games featuring 7 p.m., start times.
The games can be listened to live on ESPN 105.1 FM the Zone in the Scenic City, or go to the men's basketball schedule page on GoMocs.com for links to video (PPV), audio (free) and live stats. You can follow @GoMocsMBB on twitter for live updates as well.