The Mocs performance tonight was solid....except for they simply could not make a defensive stop. In every other way, the Mocs outperformed the Catamounts.
The Mocs won the rebounding battle, and dominated the offensive glass. The Mocs did not commit a lot of turnovers, forcing Western Carolina into one more turnover than the Mocs committed themselves. The Mocs got to the free throw line frequently. They did not take an outlandish number of threes.
So this was actually a good Mocs performance in many ways. Gee McGhee scored 19 points. Z Mason scored 21. Dontay Hampton played with his broken hand, and played admirably (though did struggle with his shooting). The Mocs were good. They were not a hot shooting team from three point range, making just 6 of 23 from long range on the night, but the team showed that they are improved. They showed a lot of winning ability. They looked like a team that deserved to win for much of the night.
But they simply could not come up with a defensive stop. The Catamounts eFG was 63.8%. Unbelievable. Shooting like that will get you beat almost every time. The Mocs left Tom Tankelewicz open too many times early in the game. When he was declared ineligible briefly earlier in the week, I really thought the Mocs would be able to win this game. When he was declared eligible, I switched my pick to the Catamounts. He wound up with 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting from three point range. Trey Sumler came up with 12 assists. Coming into the game, he had a total of 35 on the year. This was not a good showing for the Mocs defensively.
The Mocs have been struggling defensively all year, and they really just aren't very good on that end when they aren't forcing turnovers. The Mocs do a good job of holding their opponents to one shot and that makes a huge difference. They also can force turnovers when they play their full court trapping defense. However, when that doesn't happen, the Mocs really struggle defensively.
However, that being said, the Mocs showed the effort and the heart tonight. The Mocs will continue to develop and win games this year. The effort is there. The offensive performance is improving. That will help the Mocs in the future.
This was going to be a tough game for the Mocs from the beginning. When the Mocs came back from 19 down against Appalachian State, the emotions were going to be tough to overcome. The Mocs fell behind 16 points on Saturday night, and tried to fight back again, but just came up a little bit short. Again, this team is playing very hard and that will serve them well as the season progresses. But this is going to be a tough game.
Huge road trip coming up for the Mocs. They need to put this one behind them and get a game or two on this road trip.