JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 10, 2013) – Despite placing three players in double figures and producing one of its best offensive games of the year, the ETSU men’s basketball team was unable to put out a red-hot Stetson squad as the Hatters upended the Buccaneers 72-70 in Atlantic Sun Conference action Thursday evening inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
With the loss, the Bucs dropped to 3-13 on the year, 1-2 in A-Sun action, while Stetson improved to 6-10, 3-2 on the season.
“It’s been no secret that things have been a challenge for us, but tonight we had far and away our best offensive game of the year against Division I opposition – but then what’s disappointing is we weren’t very good at the other end,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “We are an improving team, and we’ve made a lot of head way over the last 10 days, but we’re still just not a really good team.”
Indeed, the Bucs were much better offensively than they have been much of the season, shooting 52 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range. However, Stetson was equally impressive with a 50 percent clip from both the floor and beyond the arc. But it was their 11 3-pointers and a 13-of-18 showing at the foul line that was the difference.
ETSU got a game-high 21 points from freshman forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), while senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) pitched in 19 points and junior forward Hunter Harris (Nashville) netted a career high 16.
For Stetson, Adam Pegg and Chris Perez both scored a team-high 17 points, while teammate Aaron Graham dropped in 13 for the Hatters.
In the first half, the Hatters got off to a quick 6-0 start on back-to-back 3-pointers, and with the score later tied at 8-8, Stetson went on a 14-2 run to enjoy its biggest lead of the half at 22-10. ETSU responded at that point with a 10-3 run of its own to make it 25-20 with just over five minutes left before the break.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Stetson’s Tanner Plemmons and Adam Pegg stopped the ETSU momentum to make it 31-20, but the Bucs again battled to get to within 37-32 with just seconds left in the half thanks to a 3-pointer by Jones. Unfortunately for the Bucs, the Hatters’ Chris Perez ended the half with his own 3-pointer to make it 40-32 at the break.
Stetson was electric on offense in the first half, hitting on 56 percent of its shots and connecting on a 62-percent clip from 3-point range – which included eight made baskets from outside.
In the second half, ETSU got to within five points on multiple occasions, but found itself trailing 67-54 with just over seven minutes left. The Bucs went to a full-court and man-to-man defense at that point, and it resulted in a 16-5 run to finish out the contest. However, the change was too little too late, as the Hatters hit just enough foul shots to keep the Bucs at bay.
ETSU will return to action Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., hosting A-Sun foe Florida Gulf Coast inside the Dome. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.