CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Chattanooga's season ended the last
two years in the Southern Conference tournament championship. The
Mocs did not come in second this time.
Chattanooga earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament by beating UNC
Greensboro 66-62 on Saturday night behind a balanced scoring effort
led by Charles Anderson. "You get tired of coming in second," first-year coach Jeff
Shulman said. "We would have been devastated because we had to
risk it all." Chattanooga lost to East Tennessee State in the 2003 and 2004
finals. Anderson had 13 points, and Mindaugas Katelynas added 12 to help
the Mocs (20-10) win their ninth title and first since 1997. Chattanooga led most of the way, but the Spartans (18-12) had an
8-0 run to cut it to two points with 1:27 left. UNC Greensboro then made it a one-point game with 14.9 seconds
remaining when Ronnie Burrell tipped in a rebound. The officials
ruled he also committed an offensive foul on Katelynas after he let
go of the ball, and Katelynas made both free throws to seal it. The Mocs went 5-of-8 at the foul line in the final 32 seconds to
pull out the win. "We were hanging on for dear life," Shulman said. Chris Brown and Alphonso Pugh each scored 11 points for
Chattanooga. Reserve Josh Gross scored 19 points to led UNC Greensboro, Ricky
Hickman added 13, Kyle Hines had 12 and Burrell 10. Chattanooga was ahead by 14 with 6½ minutes remaining, but Gross
hit two 3s and Burrell added another in a 9-2 run to trim it to
57-50 with 5:17 left. Anderson scored twice inside around a free throw by the Spartans
to push it back to 10 and the hometown fans chanted "Whose house?
Our house!" But UNC Greensboro wouldn't go away and made the game
tight in the end. Chattanooga was 7-of-16 from 3-point range and outrebounded UNC
Greensboro 35-28. The Spartans were hoping to earn their school's second NCAA
berth. Their first came in 2001 after beating Chattanooga in the
tournament championship. "I am very proud of the fight that we showed tonight. Tonight
was a struggle for us," UNC Greensboro coach Fran McCaffery said.
"We were out of sync offensively all night, but we never stopped
fighting." Shulman, who replaced current Auburn coach Jeff Lebo, shook his
fist at the cheering crowd as he cut down a piece of the net.
Shulman left the rest of the net for Katelynas, the tournament MVP,
who placed the strings around his neck.