JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 10, 2014) – When combining the start of both halves Monday night, the ETSU men’s basketball team was outscored a combined 29-4 by USC Upstate. It was simply too much to overcome.
In a battle of two teams that entered the game tied for third place in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Spartans took advantage of the Buccaneers’ slow offensive starts to take sole possession of third place in the league with a 75-63 victory inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
With the loss, the Bucs dropped to 14-12 overall, 7-6 in A-Sun play, while USC Upstate improved to 15-11, 8-5.
“It hasn’t happened lately that our starters have struggled, but tonight they did,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team shot just 24 percent from the field in the second half and 30 percent for the game. “The start to the game was horrendous, but we fought like heck to get back in it and take a two-point lead by halftime. But then the second half start was just unbelievably bad. Now all we can do is regroup and get ready for Thursday.”
The Bucs got a game-high 26 points from junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) and a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville). However, USC Upstate’s individual efforts were even better, as seniors Torrey Craig and Ricardo Glenn both posted double-doubles, combining for 40 points and 30 rebounds.
ETSU got off to a slow start in the first half, scoring just three points over the first seven minutes of play and falling behind by as many as 10 points. However, a 13-2 ETSU run midway through the half and another 17-7 burst just before the intermission led to a 33-31 halftime lead when an alley-oop slam dunk by Wilson with 28 seconds left capped the scoring.
After the intermission, the Bucs again struggled, as USC Upstate opened on a 17-4 run and later built a lead of as many as 18 points at 64-46 with six minutes left in the contest. ETSU never recovered from there.
The Spartans out-rebounded the Bucs 53-43 for the game, and dished out 19 assists compared to just seven for ETSU. Combined, ETSU starters scored just 19 points on 5-of-31 shooting from the floor.
ETSU will return to action Thursday as the Bucs host FGCU inside the Dome 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.