Mocs Fall in 54-53 Heartbreaker to Illinois in First Round of the NCAA Tournament

Mocs forward Silvio De Sousa (left). (Photo By: Michael Longo/Chattanooga Athletics)

PITTSBURGH, PA. – The 13th-seeded Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaking 54-53 decision to fourth-seeded Illinois in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament inside PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

The Mocs led for nearly 39 of 40 minutes last Friday during the contest, which began at 6:50 p.m.

Following the loss, Chattanooga was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament and finished the season 27-8 overall. Illinois advanced to the Second Round and improved to 23-9. The loss marked the first for the Mocs to the Illini in three tries.

 Chattanooga grabbed an early lead and held it for over 38 and a half minutes during the contest before Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn converted on a put-back with 45 seconds left to put the team in orange up 52-51.

Malachi Smith saw a potential game-winning shot, but it did not fall, as Illinois secured its berth into the Second Round.

“So tough, tough way to go out, obviously. The last game is always going to be a hard one. But under those circumstances, I think it was–I think it was even tougher for our older guys and just for our group together, tight-knit group,” said head coach Lamont Paris.

Former Moc Terrell “T.O.” Owens (center, standing), and friends. (Photo By: Michael Longo/Chattanooga Athletics)