CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Lance Stokes (Orlando, Fla.) scored a career-high 13 points in the Chattanooga Mocs (10-15/5-7) 62-59 overtime win over visiting Samford (8-17/6-6) Monday night. Stokes not only sparked the team offensively, he was a game-changer on defense.
After the Bulldogs opened seven of eight (87.5%) from the field, Stokes moved over to defend Samford guard Raijon Kelly. From then on, the visitors shot 14 of 41 (34.1%) from the floor.
That quick outburst helped the Bulldogs jump out to an early 11-point lead. The closest the Mocs would get the rest of the opening 20 minutes was seven points trailing 32-25 at intermission.
UTC scored the first six points of the second frame to cut it to one, 32-31, on Drazen Zlovaric's (Novi Sad, Serbia) three-point play. Gee McGhee (Baton Rouge, La.) evened the score at 35-all two possessions later at the free throw line.
The game see-sawed back and forth from there. Physical defense made either offense earn every point. Brandon Hayman's hook shot at 7:46 gave Samford a two-point advantage, 48-46.
Chattanooga scored the next five points as it held the Bulldogs scoreless for an extended run. Two Ronrico White (Knoxville, Tenn.) free throws with 4:33 to play gave his squad their largest lead of five, 53-48.
Tim Williams ended a 5:28 drought with a layup at 2:18. Next trip down, Tyler Hood drained his only three of the game to knot it up at 53-all.
Stokes put the Mocs on top again with 53 ticks left on a layup. Williams tied it up, 55-55, 11 seconds later. After a UTC miss, Samford set up a final play with just over six seconds left in regulation. Kelly's three-pointer over Zlovaric was off the mark providing free basketball to a crowd that included a very enthusiastic group of students.
Zlovaric got the ball rolling with a jump hook at 4:01 for the 57-55 lead. The Mocs would not trail again. Stokes hit one of two free throws for a three-point cushion nearly a minute later. Kelly cut it to one twice in the final minute, but McGhee and White held the Bulldogs at bay hitting free throws for the 62-59 win.
McGhee scored 14 to lead the Mocs, all in the second half. He played just three minutes in the opening 20 due to foul trouble. Zlovaric matched Stokes' 13 while adding seven rebounds and two assists. Kelly led all scorers with 19 for Samford. Williams posted 14, as Clide Geffrard, Jr., chipped in 12.
Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.) led a phenomenal Chattanooga effort on the glass with nine. UTC had a 21-rebound advantage, 43-22. White tallied a career high-tying six assists adding eight points and five boards.
The Mocs shot 42.1 percent (24-57) tonight but just one of 14 (7.1%) from three-point range. The squad converted on 52.3 percent (23-44) of their attempts inside the arc. Samford shot 42.9 percent (21-49) for the game, a mere 19.0 percent (4-21) from three-point range.
The won boosted Chattanooga's lead in the Southern Rail Rivalry series to 13-5 over Samford. The Southern Rail Rivalry is in its third year with UTC claiming the first two. Each school is awarded points for every win in head-to-head competition.
The score was 5-5 entering winter sport competition. The Mocs and Lady Mocs season sweep of regular-season basketball gives Chattanooga its commanding lead.
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