Chattanooga is going to the NCAA Tournament. The Mocs became the first top-seeded team in a conference tournament to clinch an automatic bid by outlasting East Tennessee State, 73-67, in the Southern Conference Tournament title game on Monday night. It caps an impressive rookie season from first-year head coach and longtime Billy Donovan disciple Matt McCall.
Chattanooga held a 12-point advantage out of halftime, but ETSU just wouldn't go away, riding a 10-0 run to pull within one just 12 minutes into the second half. From there, the Buccaneers played the role of pests to Chattanooga's efforts at pulling away, coming up with timely stops through the second half to keep things close. ETSU's T.J. Cromer and head coach Steve Forbes both drew technical fouls on the same play with four minutes remaining, which handed Chattanooga four free throws to increase its lead to 65-57.
That second half push proved to be the difference as the Mocs managed to tamp down on ETSU's shooters, who went lethally frigid from the charity stripe, to seal off the win. Chattanooga's Greg Pryor and Tre' McLean led all Mocs scorers with 13 points apiece.
Chattanooga returns to the Big Dance after a seven-year hiatus dating back to 2009. The Mocs enjoyed a run of March Madness appearances in the 1990s, earning four bids from 1993 to 1997.
Chris Dobbertean's latest estimation has Chattanooga as a No. 13 seed. Whatever Selection Sunday brings, the Mocs are officially bracket-bound.