Welcome to March, David Jean-Baptiste.
The Chattanooga senior guard set a ridiculously high bar for 2022 madness with a wild 3-point heave to secure the Mocs’ place in the NCAA tournament field on Monday.
Frantic finish in SoCon final
With 4.3 seconds remaining in overtime, Chattanooga inbounded the ball under its own basket trailing Furman in the Southern Conference championship game, 63-61. Jean-Baptiste corralled the inbounds pass and didn’t give it up until he’d secured victory. He dribbled the ball over halfcourt and traversed to the left wing, where he was met by three Furman defenders.
With the clock winding down, Jean-Baptiste pulled up from well beyond the 3-point arc where he found nothing but the bottom of the net as the final buzzer sounded.
Elation for top-seeded Chattanooga in the 64-63 win. Heartbreak for No. 2 seed Furman, which saw its NCAA tournament hopes extinguished.
Furman heroics fall short
Jean-Baptiste’s winner wasn’t the first March-worthy highlight of the night. The game wouldn’t have reached overtime if not for a big shot from Furman’s All-Southern Conference senior guard Mike Bothwell.
Chattanooga took a 51-48 lead with 28 seconds remaining in regulation thanks to a tip-in by senior forward Silvio De Sousa. The Paladins looked to their leader to respond. With the clock ticking under nine seconds, Bothwell drove to the basket from the left wing, shed his defender with a cutback and pulled up from beyond the 3-point line to tie the game at 51-51, ultimately sending the game into the extra session.
Bothwell then scored Furman’s first five points of overtime to give the Paladins a 56-53 lead. He retook the lead again for the Paladins at 63-61, responding to a game-tying 3-pointer by Chattanooga’s A.J. Caldwell with a driving layup with 4.3 seconds remaining. But Jean-Baptiste countered to spoil his big night in spectacular fashion.
Jean-Baptiste had a rough shooting night prior to his game-winner. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the field. He’ll certainly take the hit to his field-goal percentage.
Bothwell, meanwhile, was the best player on the court, finishing with 24 points and five rebounds while connecting on 9 of 13 field goal attempts in an agonizing losing effort.