JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 26, 2013) – North Florida threw the first offensive punch, but it was the ETSU men’s basketball team that delivered the knockout blow.
After allowing UNF to shoot 68 percent in the first half and build a lead of as many as 17 points before the intermission, the Buccaneers clamped down on defense and scored a season-high 56 points in the second half to pull away with an 89-75 victory Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
Junior forward Hunter Harris (Nashville) led the way for the Bucs, scoring a season-high 25 points as ETSU improved to 6-15 overall, 4-4 in Atlantic Sun Conference play. Meanwhile, UNF drops to 8-14, 3-6.
“I can’t say enough about that second half,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team shot 60 percent from the field and 63 percent from 3-point range after the intermission. “Obviously, we were very good on the offensive end and at halftime we shored up some issues with our defense. Hunter really played the way we have expected and this is why we recruited him so much out of junior college. Again, we had four guys in double figures and we’re really starting to figure things out offensively. What we need to do now is put that together for 40 minutes.”
Indeed, the Bucs once again needed an impressive comeback for the win, as North Florida led 30-13 with less than 10 minutes left in the half. At that point, ETSU began chipping away at the Ospreys’ lead and ultimately pulled to within 11 at 45-33 by the break.
In the second half, Harris began to take over and scored five of his 25 points during a 9-0 spurt by the Bucs in the opening minutes. ETSU followed that burst with another 17-3 run that saw Harris score another eight points and fuel the Bucs to a 69-60 lead with five minutes left in the contest.
North Florida – who got a game-high 26 points from shooting guard Parker Smith – was unable to cut the deficit to closer than five points the rest of the way.
Along with Harris, ETSU got a double-double effort from freshman guard Lester Wilson (Knoxville), who scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while senior guard Jarvis Jones netted 19 points and sophomore guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) pitched in 12. Freshman point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) played a strong game as well, dishing out eight assists while scoring seven points without any turnovers.
ETSU will return to action Monday evening on the road at USC Upstate, with game time in Spartanburg, S.C., set for 7:30 p.m. For more on ETSU basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com.