CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Freshman Gee McGhee (Baton Rouge, La.) scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Chattanooga Mocs (12-17/7-9) to a 72-68 win over Elon (19-9/12-4) Saturday night. It was a hard-fought win on senior night in McKenzie Arena as McGhee and his mates sent seniors Drazen Zlovaric (Novi Sad, Serbia), Dontay Hampton (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Drew Baker (Nashville, Tenn.) off with a win.
It wasn't easy. The Phoenix, which clinched the Southern Conference North Division title on Thursday at Samford, led by six with 12 minutes to play on Sebastian Koch's three-pointer. The Mocs answered with a 9-0 run to go up 59-56 on Eric Robertson's (Huntsville, Ala.) three-pointer from the left corner. Robertson started and ended the run with his trey at 9:38.
The lead ballooned to six on Zlovaric's layup at 7:07 for a 64-58 advantage. It got to as large as seven, 69-62, on McGhee's 24th point on a jumper with 4:35 remaining. It was a defensive struggle the remainder of the game.
Jack Isenbarger scored with three minutes to go in the paint to cut it to three, 69-66. It was the last field goal of the contest for either side. Ronrico White (Knoxville, Tenn.) made three of four free throws to close out the win.
McGhee added a game-high eight rebounds and a spectacular block with just over a minute left to help seal the win. He made a career-best 13 free throws in 19 attempts falling just two shy of the school record of 21 held by Derrick Kirce although both are new freshman records. Zlovaric and Z. Mason (Nashville, Tenn.) each chipped in 10 points for Chattanooga.
Ryley Beaumont had 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Phoenix. Koch ended up with 13 points, while Isenbarger added 12 points, four rebounds and a game-high six assists. He also made a key steal with 17 seconds left making two free throws to make it a two-point game. White's free tosses with 8.4 remaining provided the final four-point margin of victory for UTC.
Elon led for a majority of the first half. It went up by as many as seven twice on a jumper by Josh Bonney and Beaumont's three. The latter came with 10:16 left to make it 25-18 Phoenix. The Mocs scored the next seven points with McGhee's free throw at 7:43 knotting the score at 25-all.
It was 32-all when McGhee and fellow freshman Casey Jones (New Orleans, La.) scored on back-to-back possessions. McGhee sank two free throws and was literally followed by Jones in the scoring column. His layup was just off the mark, but Jones soared through to tip it in for a 36-32 lead. Beaumont scored on a layup with 52 seconds to go sending the Mocs into the break up one, 38-37.
Jones made his first start since his knee injury in December providing energy and enthusiasm to the Mocs. He ended up with eight points (tying his high), five rebounds and three assists. Fellow freshmen Robertson and Alex Bran (Memphis, Tenn.) provided solid minutes off the bench as the quartet of first-year student-athletes combined for 40 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
Chattanooga is on the road to close the regular season. It starts Thursday night at Western Carolina with a 7 p.m., tip time. Listen to the exciting play-by-play from "Voice of the Mocs" Jim Reynolds on ESPN 105.1 the Zone in Chattanooga or online at GoMocs.com via MocsVision. You can follow @GoMocsMBB on twitter for news, notes, stats and links to game notes, live stats and more.
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