CHARLESTON, S.C. (Nov. 20, 2012) – Starting three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior, a shorthanded ETSU men’s basketball team overcame adversity off the court and rallied from a 20-point first-half deficit to win 59-57 over Charleston Southern in non-conference basketball action Tuesday night inside the Buccaneer Fieldhouse.
While redshirt freshman Lester Wilson (Knoxville) led the way with a career high 26 points and junior Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) posted a 12-point, five-rebound effort, it was sophomore post John Walton (Memphis) whose layup was the game-winner with 3.7 seconds left on the clock.
CSU’s Saah Nimley raced to the rim as the final seconds expired, but his floater from the lane missed the mark and ETSU completed the remarkable victory.
The Buccaneers (1-2), who played the game without the services of senior guards Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) because both have been suspended indefinitely from the team for violations of team rules and policies, battled throughout the contest and got spectacular individual efforts from several players to pick up the win.
“I just told the guys in the locker room that I’ve coached a lot of basketball games and I’ve been a part of a lot of wins in my career, but this is the biggest win and most special one I’ve ever been a part of,” said a visibly emotional ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “To have faced what this team has faced the last couple of days, and to then be down by 20 points on the road to a team that’s picked to win the Big South, and come away with a win is really something I can’t put into words.
“Just unbelievable and something really special.”
In a battle of two teams with the same Buccaneers nickname, ETSU took a major punch to the gut from Charleston Southern (1-3) early on, and trailed by as many as 20 points at 35-15 with 5:49 left on the clock. However, at that point Wilson scored 11 of ETSU’s next 16 points and powered a 16-3 run to end the half, making the score 38-31.
To start the second half, ETSU continued to rally and ultimately took the lead at 49-46 on a Gadsden-Gilliard 3-pointer with 8:20 left in the game. CSU regained the advantage at that point and didn’t trail again until a 3-pointer by Wilson made it 57-54 with 2:46 remaining.
From there, Charleston Southern tied it at 57-57, but on ETSU’s final possession of the game, Wilson took a shot that missed, KGG rebounded the ball and missed, and then Walton gathered up the loose ball and scored the game-winner.
For the game, ETSU held CSU to just 28.8 percent shooting from the floor, and ETSU out-rebounded the host Bucs 39-36. Meanwhile, ETSU shot 43 percent from the floor and 39 percent from 3-point range.
Freshman point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) played all 40 minutes in the game, dishing out seven assists against just three turnovers.
The Bucs will return to action Friday night at Georgia, with the game set for a 7 p.m. tip. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.