CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 8, 2013) – Senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) scored a career-high 31 points, but senior post Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) missed a potential game-tying free throw with seven seconds left in regulation, as Charlotte held off ETSU 80-75 in the regular season opener for both teams Friday evening inside Halton Arena.
Despite the loss, the Buccaneers showed a renewed sense of purpose on both ends of the floor during the game and gave their Conference USA opponent a challenging home opener.
“I was extremely pleased with the effort,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “But we had talked the last couple of days about two things: turnovers and Charlotte’s offensive rebounding. Tonight we just didn’t take care of the ball and we allowed their inside guys too much on the offensive end. All in all, though, I was pleased with a lot of what I saw.”
Along with KGG’s career night, the Bucs also got double-figure scoring from junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) with 11 points, while sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) and freshman guard A.J. Merriweather added 10 points each.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair for the most part with a total of 10 lead changes over the first 14 minutes of play. However, after tying the contest at 23-23 on a 3-pointer by Rembert, Charlotte proceeded to put together a 9-0 offensive run and built a 32-23 advantage with just over two minutes left in the half.
ETSU managed to weather that storm and battled back with an 8-2 run of its own, ending the half on a positive note when the Bucs forced the 49ers into a shot-clock violation with six seconds left before the intermission. From there, ETSU raced up the floor and Gadsden-Gilliard drained a long 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to make it 34-31 at the break.
In the second half, the Bucs got to within two points at 49-47 with 13:21 left in the game, but from there Charlotte went on a 10-3 run to match its largest lead of the game at nine, 59-50. ETSU did not buckle, though, methodically getting back into the game and ultimately making it a two-point game on a basket by Wilson that made it 76-74 with 44 seconds left in the game.
At that point, Charlotte missed a shot on their end and Poderis was fouled on the play, setting up his final opportunity to tie the contest. While 49ers’ guard Pierria Henry made it a three-point game with a pair of free throws, the Bucs lost a final shot to tie when guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) was called for traveling with 4.5 seconds left.
For Charlotte, Henry and Mike Thorne, Jr., led the way with 17 points each
The Bucs were out-rebounded by Charlotte 45-35, and the 49ers held a 16-10 edge on the offensive glass, while forcing ETSU into 19 turnovers during the game.
ETSU shot 43 percent from the floor for the game, and held Charlotte to just 11.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Bucs will return to action Tuesday night, as they host Morehead State for their home opener inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center at 7 p.m. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2013-14 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.