David Jean-Baptiste played the role of hero as he hit a game-winning three-pointer over three defenders to lift Chattanooga to a 64-63 overtime win over Furman in the 2022 Southern Conference championship game.
Mike Bothwell put the Paladins in front 63-61 with a layup with 4.3 seconds left. Chattanooga opted not to call a timeout and Jean-Baptiste took the inbounds pass, wove his way through defenders, across the mid-court line and launched the shot that sent the Mocs to the NCAA Tournament.
Silvio De Sousa dominated down low, leading Chattanooga (27-7) with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Jean-Baptiste added 13 and Malachi Smith had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Bothwell scored Furman's (22-12) last 13 points of the game and led the Paladins with 24. Alex Hunter was the only other player in double figures with 12.
Story of the game
It was a slow start to thr\e game as the top two seeded teams combined to miss their first nine shots from the floor before Smith hit a floater for the first points of the game nearly five minutes in.
AJ Caldwell and Furman's Jalen Slawson traded threes as the score became knotted at 7-7 with 13:00 left in the opening half, but Chattanooga continued to struggle on the offensive end as they started 4-of-17 from the floor before a layup by Jean-Baptiste made it 16-11 Paladins with 8:02 left.
Leading 20-16, Furman would close the first half on a 6-0 run to take a 26-16 advantage into the break. Chattanooga shot just 28 percent from the floor and an abysmal 1 for 12 from deep.
Chattanooga opened the second half on a 13-0 run with the help of six points from KC Hankton to cut the deficit to 28-26, with 15:29 left. Jean-Baptiste then nailed a triple that put the Mocs back in front 29-28.
A back-and-forth affair over the next few minutes saw Silvio De Sousa hit a driving layup that keyed an 11-3 run to put Chattanooga in front 40-32 with 9:38 remaining.
Chattanooga led 46-39 before Furman answered with a 7-0 run that tied the game at 46-46 with just 2:12 remaining.
De Sousa controversially tipped in a missed layup from Jean-Baptiste to make it 51-48 in favor of the Mocs with 23 seconds left. The ball appeared to be on the rim when the Kansas transfer put the ball back in.
Bothwell forced overtime in dramatic fashion as he hit a step-back three to tie the game, 51-51. Furman blocked the Mocs last chance of regulation to send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, Bothwell hit another huge shot to put Furman ahead 56-53 before Jean-Baptiste answered with a three on the ensuing possession to make it a 56-56 game with 1:59 left.
Furman held a 61-58 lead with just 43 seconds left before Caldwell hit a game-tying three with just 24 seconds to go. Bothwell put the Paladins back in front with a driving layup before Jean-Baptiste stunned Furman with his miraculous shot.
"It was surreal", Jean-Baptiste said of his shot. "I knew I had four seconds left, tried to put myself in the best position possible just to get the shot up and it felt like it took forever for the ball to reach the basket.
"Once I saw it hit the net, I couldn't feel no more asfter that. It was unbelievable."