HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (Feb. 6, 2014) – Just when the ETSU men’s basketball team looked like it was “pressing” on offense, it was the Buccaneers’ pressing defense that led to a victory.
By utilizing a full-court defense midway through the second half, a lethargic ETSU team found new life and overcame a seven-point deficit to drop Northern Kentucky 64-50 in Atlantic Sun Conference play Thursday evening at the Bank of Kentucky Center.
The Bucs were led by junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.), who scored 12 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, as ETSU improved to 13-11 overall, 6-5 on the season.
“It wasn’t a real pretty first half or first part of the second half,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team outscored the Norse 33-12 after going to the full-court defense. “At that point of the game, we decided to start pressing them and that really seemed to bother them. It helped us on the offensive end as well. I was really encouraged to see the fight of our guys, because winning on the road is never easy and we overcame some adversity tonight to get this one.”
Along with Rembert, the Bucs got 16 points from junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.), while freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) nearly posted a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds on the night. The Bucs’ pressure kept NKU from being efficient on offense, as the Norse finished the game shooting 33 percent from the field. In addition, ETSU forced 11 turnovers on eight steals, and won the rebounding battle, 35-34.
The story of the first half was the disappearance of ETSU’s offense midway through the first 20 minutes. After building a lead of 24-18 on a 3-pointer by Riley with the 8:05 mark, the Bucs did not score again and looked on as Northern Kentucky went on a 15-0 run to close out the half and lead 33-24 at the break.
After the intermission, it took another two minutes of play before the Bucs finally broke NKU’s run with a layup by senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) with 17:40 left in the game. The Bucs still trailed by seven at 38-31, but at that point Bartow chose to let his team utilize their full-court defense and the result was a 12-2 run that put ETSU back on top at 43-40.
From there, the press continued to do the job as the Bucs outscored NKU 21-10 the rest of the way. For the game, ETSU shot 93 percent at the foul line (12-of-13), while not giving up a foul shot to the Norse in the second half.
The Bucs will continue on their Atlantic Sun Conference road swing Saturday in Nashville, taking on Lipscomb inside Allen Arena at 5 p.m. For more on information on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2013-14 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.