BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (Nov. 16, 2013) – Playing on the road against one of the most successful mid-major programs in the history of college basketball, the ETSU men’s basketball team fought mightily but offensive struggles doomed the Buccaneers as Western Kentucky won 57-50 in non-conference action Saturday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
In a rematch of former Ohio Valley Conference rivals from the 1960s and 1970s, the Bucs and Hilltoppers had not met since the 1980-81 season. With the loss, ETSU dropped to 0-3 on the season, while the Hilltoppers improved to 1-1.
“I was really proud of the way we fought, and I can’t fault the effort at all,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “Offensively, we just weren’t as good as we need to be. But the effort was good, the rebounding was better, and the energy on defense was what we need. We aren’t happy about being 0-3, but at this point we aren’t that far away.”
In what was an extremely ineffective first half offensively for both teams, the Bucs made just four field goals before the intermission, yet still managed to go 10-of-12 from the free throw line to stay in the game. The Hilltoppers never led by more than six and the Bucs’ actually took the lead on a 3-pointer by junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) at the 7:46 mark.
But from there, WKU outscored the Bucs 10-4 to enjoy a 25-20 lead at the break.
After the break ETSU again struggled offensively and this time the Hilltoppers took advantage by outscoring the Bucs 20-8 over the first 10 minutes, ultimately building a lead of 17 points at 45-28. Instead of letting the game get further out of hand, the Bucs battled back to make it a game, getting to within five points at 52-47 with just over a minute remaining.
However, at that point the Hilltoppers hit a 3-pointer to make it 55-47 and the Bucs were not able to rally again.
For the game, ETSU held Western Kentucky to 36 percent shooting from the floor and just 20 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. However, the Bucs shot only 25 percent from the field, but were 18-of-22 from the charity stripe for an 82 percent clip.
The Bucs were led offensively by Riley with 15 points, while senior post Hunter Harris (Nashville) added 11 points, and junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) netted 10. Western Kentucky was led by T.J. Price’s 18 points.
The Bucs will return to action against Winthrop on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. For more on ETSU men’s hoops throughout the 2013-14 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.