JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 21, 2013) – A change of scenery turned out to be just what was needed for the ETSU men’s basketball team.
Playing a “home game” inside Freedom Hall Civic Center for the first time in 12 years as part of the First Bank and Trust Company Rounball Showcase, senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) collected a double-double performance and sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) netted a team-high 20 points as the Buccaneers overcame a second-half deficit to defeat non-conference foe Samford 89-75 Thursday evening.
“Any win is a good win right now,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 1-4 on the season. “We got a lot of good individual performances from several different players, and I was really proud of our guys and their fight in the second half. We were down seven there with 12 minutes to go in the game and we got it tied by the nine-minute mark, and then down the stretch we made plays. That was good to see.”
The Bucs – who scored their most points in a game since a 90-88 win over Lipscomb back on Feb. 2, 2013 – got 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds from Gadsden-Gillard, along with double-figure scoring nights from Wilson with 20, junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) with 16, freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) with 15, and junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) with 13.
As a team, ETSU shot 50 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 41-28, including a 13-7 advantage on the offensive glass. The Bucs also committed just nine turnovers in the game.
ETSU’s bench also outscored Samford’s reserves 42-11, and the Bucs held a 17-5 advantage in second-chance points.
Despite those quality numbers, the Bucs actually trailed much of the game and found themselves down 54-47 with 13:15 left in the contest. However, at that point it was not only the offensive play of the team, but the defensive and rebounding efforts of Merriweather and senior post Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) that helped change the momentum.
Poderis, who finished with nine boards and six rebounds in the game, also had a pair of blocks that sparked the Bucs and led to a 16-2 run that made the game 63-56 in favor of ETSU with less than eight minutes left in the contest.
From there, Samford could get no closer than five points, finishing the game with a 46 percent shooting clip from the field, and 43 percent effort from 3-point range. For the Bulldogs, post Tim Williams had a game-high 21 points, while Raijon Kelly added 20 in the losing cause.
The Bucs will return to Freedom Hall for the second of their three games in the facility on Saturday at 4 p.m., taking on Stephen F. Austin. For more on ETSU men’s hoops during the 2012-13 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball link.