Championship Game: #1N Chattanooga 80, #3S College of Charleston 69
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Chattanooga opened the second half on a 20-0 run and weathered College of Charleston’s second-half 3-point barrage to win its record-tying 10th Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship title on Monday, 80-69, to claim the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
Tony White Jr. scored a career-high 31 points for the Cougars, but Keyron Sheard led Chattanooga (18-16), the North Division’s top seed, with 18 points. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Stephen McDowell had 15 points, Ty Patterson 12 and Kevin Goffney 10 for the Mocs, while Andrew Goudelock had 15 for College of Charleston (26-8), the South Division’s No. 3 seed.
The game was tied at 34 at the half, but the Mocs came out of the locker room on fire, scoring the first 20 points of the frame to seemingly take control. McDowell got the scoring binge started with a 3-pointer in the first minute, and Patterson added three triples of his own – including one as the shot clock expired – to get the Mocs rolling. Khalil Hartwell’s steal and thunderous dunk made it an 18-point game and got the home crowd on its feet, and Sheard’s pair of free throws made it 54-34.
College of Charleston finally got its first bucket of the half on a Goudelock 3-pointer with 13:23 to play, and White hit back-to-back 3s to force a Chattanooga timeout.
The Mocs turned the ball over out of the timeout and Goudelock drained another 3 – Charleston’s fourth in a row – to get the margin back under 10 at 54-46 with 11:19 to play. Antwaine Wiggins’ layup pulled the Cougars to within six to cap a 14-0 Charleston run, but Sheard hit a layup on the other end to stop Chattanooga’s drought.
The Cougars weren’t done, however, getting another Goudelock 3-pointer to make it a five-point game with 8:26 to play.
Nicchaeus Doaks’ layup made it 58-51, and Goffney’s one-handed follow dunk on a missed 3 from Patterson pushed the lead back to nine. After a Charleston turnover, Sheard drained his lone 3 of the game to put the Mocs’ lead back in double digits.
White answered with one of his seven 3-pointers, but Sheard was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to make it 66-54 with five minutes to play.
White scored seven points in the final two minutes to make things interesting, but Chattanooga salted away the game at the free throw line. McDowell was 4-for-4 in the final two minutes, while Goffney was 3-for-4 and Sheard 2-for-2.
The first half was hotly contested, with neither team leading by more than seven and the lead changing hands five times. A McDowell jumper made it 25-18 with just under eight minutes to play in the half, but White had a jumper and a 3 in a 7-0 Charleston run that tied the game.
Chris Early scored all six of his points consecutively in a 9-2 Chattanooga spurt that stretched the lead back to seven points at 34-27, but a layup from Jermaine Johnson and a couple of free throws from White made it a one-possession game. Marcus Hammond hit a 3 as the shot clock expired with less than a minute left to knot the score heading into intermission.
The Mocs’ 10th league tournament title ties the record held by Davidson and former SoCon member West Virginia.
Goffney and McDowell earned spots on the SoCon All-Tournament first team for Chattanooga, while Doaks was named to the second team. White was on the first team for Charleston, while Goudelock, Dustin Scott and Jeremy Simmons were on the second team.
Stephen McDowell, Chattanooga
Tony White Jr., College of Charleston
Stephen Curry, Davidson
Kevin Goffney, Chattanooga
Bryan Friday, Samford
Nicchaeus Doaks, Chattanooga
Dustin Scott, College of Charleston
Donald Sims, Appalachian State
Andrew Goudelock, College of Charleston
Jeremy Simmons, College of Charleston
Most Outstanding Player – Stephen McDowell, Chattanooga