Georgia used a late offensive surge to outlast Chattanooga 72-65 on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs improved to 9-3 overall on the season with a victory over the visiting Mocs.
“Overall, I think we always felt that we were going to win the game,” Georgia’s Kario Oquendo said. “At some point in the game, we were just going to have to take it over and kept telling the team in the huddle, we’ve got to take over the game, we’ve got to take over the game. People’s minds were in a lot of different places, but if we could just shut that out, we were going to win.”
Georgia took its first lead late in the second half with 2:58 left as Oquendo nailed a pair of free throws. He then hit one more and the Bulldogs never trailed from that point on.
However, Chattanooga tied it up at 63-63 with a Jamal Johnson triple on the next possession. The Bulldogs did respond as Oquendo chalked up a 3-pointer to retake the lead.
Georgia was able to put it away offensively with free throws to end the game. The Bulldogs’ defense also only allowed the Mocs to score five points in the final six minutes.
“I thought that the intestinal fortitude down the stretch, the body language, the ‘we’re going to get a stop’ (mindset) was there,” Georgia head coach Mike White said. “We had some defensive swagger, which is what you need against a team that’s that difficult to defend, which is what you want every day in practice. Whether we’re playing against each other or anyone period. Let’s compete. Offensively, getting to the foul line late (and) converting at the foul line, we continue to do that at a pretty high clip.”
Chattanooga built up an eight-point lead twice in the second half, although the Bulldogs wouldn’t go away easily. They clawed their back to contention and never gave up. Their persistence – at both ends of the court – in the second half paid off in the end.
Oquendo totaled a season-high and team-high 22 points against the Mocs on Wednesday. The Bulldogs also had several other players scoring double figures, including Terry Roberts (14 points), Braelen Bridges (12 points) and Jailyn Ingram (10 points).
“I’m used to seeing that. It makes me so happy to see my brother go crazy, to do what we all know he can do,” Roberts said of Oquendo’s performance. “I’m just so excited for him.”
Georgia limited Chattanooga’s leading scorer and rebounder. Big man Jake Stephens was held to just 10 points and eight rebounds, which is well below what he normally averages. The Bulldogs also were productive on the glass, out-rebounding the Mocs, 35-32.