HARRISONBURG, Va. (Dec. 5, 2012) – Without starting point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.), the ETSU men’s basketball team had no answers for James Madison’s relentless defensive pressure and suffered a 70-45 setback Wednesday evening inside the JMU Convocation Center.
The Dukes were obviously aware of McClain’s injury, as they immediately went to a full court defense from the start of the game and forced the short-handed Buccaneers to beat the press. It didn’t happen.
Ultimately, the Dukes forced ETSU into 18 turnovers and got a team-high 17 points from guard A.J. Davis to cruise to the victory. For the Bucs, Lester Wilson (Knoxville) posted a game-high 21 points, while sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) netted 12 points in the game.
“We are really facing a tough situation right now without Petey,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team dropped to 2-4 on the year. “And really, it’s not fair for us to ask Rashawn to go out there and play point guard. It would be like asking a tight end to go play quarterback. It’s not that our guys didn’t play hard, but if you look at the box score no one really played well.”
The Bucs suffered through a nightmarish start in the first half, as James Madison exploited McClain’s absence and pressured ETSU relentlessly. As a result, JMU built a lead of as many as 15 points twice.
ETSU did manage to get within 10 points of the Dukes on a couple of occasions, but ultimately trailed by 16 at 36-20 when JMU closed the half with a block and a layup by Andre Nation as time expired in the first half.
The Dukes maintained their end-of-the-half momentum in the second frame, going on a 20-3 run in the first 10 minutes of the half to make it 56-23 with just over 10 minutes left. JMU put the game on auto pilot from there.
For the game, JMU collected 15 steals and forced 18 ETSU turnovers. Making matters worse, the Bucs were unable to get into their offensive sets going without McClain on the floor and shot just 29 percent from the floor – making only seven two-point baskets on the night. In addition, the Dukes outrebounded the Bucs 43-32.
The Bucs will return to action Saturday evening at North Carolina, taking on the Tar Heels at 7:30 p.m. in the Dean Dome. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.