CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Omar Wattad's (Johnson City, Tenn.) game-high 27 points led the Chattanooga Mocs to a 91-88 win over College of Charleston in McKenzie Arena Monday night. The all-around team effort propelled Chattanooga to 7-0 in the Southern Conference North Division, 11-8 overall. The Cougars fall to 12-6, 5-1 in the SoCon South.
Wattad nailed 6-10 from three-point range while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists. He also hit 7-7 from the free throw line. Bob Cousy Award candidate Keegan Bell (Hazel Green, Ala.) nearly recorded a triple-double with 12 points, eight assists and a career-high-tying rebounds.
Andrew Goudelock paced Charleston with 26 points and eight assists. Jeremy Simmons posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Cougars set the tempo early scoring the first eight points of the game en route to a 33-21 lead at 11:22 on a Goudelock three-pointer. CofC hit 10 of its first 14 shots, including eight of its 11 shots from 3-pt. range.
Six straight points from Wattad cut the lead to six, 33-27, but Antwaine Wiggins hit a trey at 10:31 to put the Cougars back up nine, 36-27.
It was all Chattanooga from there. The Mocs closed the half on a 26-10 run (10-0 over final 4:21) to take a 53-46 lead into the break. Wattad scored 19 of his 27 in the opening frame.
UTC built its lead to nine out of intermission first on a layup by Ricky Taylor (Brownsville, Tenn.) at 19:32 and later on Chris Early's (Huntington, W.Va.) jumper in the paint making it 57-48 with 18:12 to play.
Wiggins hit threes on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to three, 57-54, at 17:23. Seven seconds later a Taylor jumper gave the Mocs another five-point cushion which extended to eight at 12:19 on a Wattad three.
The Cougars scored seven straight to cut the lead to one, 69-68, on Willis Hall's third three-pointer of the game. The Mocs clung to the lead until Goudelock's three-pointer at 6:38 gave CofC a 76-75 advantage.
Chattanooga had a quick answer. Saffore's three-point play 16 seconds later put the Mocs up two, 78-76, with 6:22 left.
Defense controlled play for the next few possessions when Goudelock scored on a layup in transition to knot the score at 78 with 4:34 to go. A Wattad three-pointer, followed by a back-door cut by Bell on a great feed from DeAntre Jefferson (Bloomington, Ill.), pushed Chattanooga back up five, 83-78, at 3:27.
From there, the lead was never less than three. The Mocs hit all six free throws in the final minute to hold the Cougars at bay for the 91-88 triumph.
Jefferson came off the bench for 15 points, five rebounds and two assists at the five for UTC. He had 13 of his 15 in the first half as his post play keyed the Mocs surge. Taylor added 16 points, five rebounds and three assists shooting 7-12 from the floor.
Hall had 15 points for the Cougars, while Donovan Monroe chipped in 14 points and tied Bell and Goudelock for game-high honors with eight assists.
Chattanooga shot season bests of 53.4 percent (31-58) from the field, 45.5 percent (10-22) from three-point range and 86.4 percent (19-22) from the free throw line. The Mocs out-scored CofC in the paint, 38-24, and beat the Cougars on the glass, 36-30, led by Bell's eight.
UTC hits the road for its next two with a weekend trip to South Carolina. It starts Thursday night, meeting Wofford at 7 p.m., followed by a Saturday date at Furman (4 p.m.). Fans can access live audio and stats via Chattanooga All-Access on GoMocs.com. The game will also broadcast on the Mocs Sports Network on ESPN 105.1 FM in the Chattanooga area with the "Voice of the Mocs" Jim Reynolds.GoMocs.com is the official website of the Chattanooga Mocs. The Mocs can also be followed on their official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ChattanoogaMocs, or on Twitter, www.twitter.com/GoMocs.