CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Ronrico White (Knoxville, Tenn.) scored a career-high 21 points to lead the Chattanooga Mocs (4-8) to a 68-61 win over High Point (4-7) in the opening round of the Dr Pepper Classic. White scored 15 of his 21 in the second half, willing his squad to the win.
With UTC clinging to a two-point advantage, 52-50, White nailed a three-pointer while drawing a foul, and his subsequent four-point play put the Mocs up six with 4:38 remaining. The Panthers clawed back to a two-point deficit on Adam Weary's layup with 3:08, but the Mocs did not break.
Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.) drained two free throws at the 1:54 mark to put UTC back up by four, 62-58. Devante Wallace's three with 31 seconds to play got it back to a single point, 62-61. But the Mocs were resolute at the free throw line.
White stepped up and hit two to make it a three-point game, 64-61 with 26 seconds left. Wallace's three was off the mark and High Point immediately fouled Mason who converted two more from the charity stripe with just 11 ticks to go. White closed the scoring with two more free tosses seven seconds later for the final margin of 68-61. Beginning with White's four-point play, the Mocs hit 11 of 13 free throws down the stretch.
The Mocs spoiled a tremendous individual effort by High Point freshman John Brown. Brown tallied 23 points and 16 rebounds to pace the Panthers. Weary added 15, while Wallace came off the bench to chip in 13.
Mason had 15 points and nine rebounds in support of White tonight. Gee McGhee (Baton Rouge, La.) added 12. White also posted a season-high six rebounds while dishing out four assists.
The two teams shot five of 41 from three-point range. UTC was two-for-21 (9.5%), while the Panthers managed a 15 percent clip (3-20).
High Point owned a 13-rebound advantage on the glass, 45-32. Brown's 16 were aided by 12 off the bench by Lorenzo Cugini.
While the perimeter game was cold, the Mocs scored at a nice rate inside the arc. The squad hit 21 of 32 (65.6%) on their two-point attempts combined with a 20-28 performance, 71.4 percent, from the free throw line.
It was a see-saw affair throughout with 16 lead changes and four ties. High Point's largest lead was four, while UTC led by as many as nine.
The four-point lead for High Point was 32-28 on a Weary layup with 45 ticks left in the first half. McGhee closed it to two with a layup nine seconds later for a 32-30 halftime margin for the Panthers.
The Mocs opened the second half on an 11-0 run to take a nine-point lead, 41-32, on a Mason jumper. The Panthers were undaunted as Corey Law's jumper at 10:43 capped a 14-2 High Point charge, giving the visitors a three-point lead, 46-43.
Mason's jumper at 5:42 put Chattanooga up for good, 54-52. On the next Mocs possession, White made his pivotal four-point play.
Utah Valley (7-8) claimed a hard-fought 84-77 win over Austin Peay (4-9) in game one. There were 13 ties and 17 lead changes in the game. Ben Aird (26 pts, 8 reb) and Nick Thompson (13 pts, 10 reb, 12 ast) led UVU, while Travis Betran (27) and Anthony Campbell (22) combined for 49 points for the Govs.
HPU and the Govs meet in the consolation game at 4:30 p.m., Saturday evening. The Mocs and Utah Valley are matched up in the title tilt at 7 p.m. It is a rematch of last year's Dr Pepper Classic Championship game. Tickets are available on GoMocs.com or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
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