ASHEVILLE, N.C. – No. 1 seed Chattanooga got 13 points each from Tre’ McLean and Greg Pryor and 12 from Eric Robertson as it used a balanced attack to down No. 2 seed ETSU 73-67 in the title game of the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale on Monday night. With the win, the Mocs claim the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
The Mocs, who improved to 29-5 to extend their school record for single-season wins, never trailed in the second half despite seeing the Bucs (23-11) trim their lead to one twice in the frame.
A Dee Oldham 3-pointer put Chattanooga firmly in control with 14:40 left to play, pushing the score to 48-37, but ETSU was about to make a run. Desonta Bradford got it started with a three-point play, and Deuce Bello followed with a 3 to make it a five-point contest at 48-43.
A.J. Merriweather converted consecutive layups to make it a one-point game with just under 12 minutes to play, but Oldham answered with a pair of free throws.
Another Merriweather layup made it 50-49, but McLean hit a jumper and Chuck Ester added a layup to make it a two-possession game again. The Bucs would get it back to two points twice – the last time on a T.J. Cromer 3-pointer with 5:42 to go – but Chattanooga quickly stretched its lead back to eight on a McLean 3-pointer and three Pryor free throws and never saw its lead dip below five points again.
McLean and Pryor were all-tournament selections, with Pryor being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Bradford finished with game highs of 14 points and six assists for ETSU, while Cromer had 13 and Ge’Lawn Guyn had 11. All three of them were all-tournament picks.
Chattanooga’s SoCon title was its 11th, good for second in league history. The Mocs met ETSU in the title game for the sixth time, evening the title-game series at three games apiece.
With the win, Chattanooga became the first school in league history to win the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in the same season. There had been 16 previous occasions in which a school put both squads in their respective title games.
The Mocs will learn their postseason fate on March 13, as the NCAA’s Selection Sunday show will air on CBS at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player
Greg Pryor, Chattanooga
T.J. Cromer, ETSU
Ge’Lawn Guyn, ETSU
Tre’ McLean, Chattanooga
Greg Pryor, Chattanooga
Mike Brown, Western Carolina
Desonta Bradford, ETSU
Devin Sibley, Furman
QJ Peterson, VMI
Torrion Brummitt, Western Carolina
Fletcher Magee, Wofford