JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 13, 2014) – ETSU senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) eclipsed 1,000 points for his career, but the UNC Greensboro Spartans ruined the celebration by dropping the Buccaneers 80-79 Saturday afternoon in Southern Conference men’s basketball action at Freedom Hall.
Losing for the first time in seven games at Freedom Hall since the 2013-14 season, the Bucs’ defense was unable to stop the Spartans, who shot 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range for the game. Guard Tevon Saddler led the attack for the Spartans with a team-high 24 points, as UNCG improved to 4-6 overall, 1-0 in SoCon play.
Meanwhile, ETSU – which dropped to 5-2 overall, 1-1 in SoCon play – was led by 28 points from senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), 13 points from Rembert, and a double-double effort from sophomore guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson), who finished with 13 points and a career high 14 rebounds.
“We’ve played a lot of close games and so far this season we had won them all. It didn’t work out that way tonight,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “We just didn’t defend well enough, and when the shots are not falling it’s a bad combination for us.”
In the first half, the Bucs looked like a team coming off a 10-day break. Struggling on the offensive end, ETSU did not connect for its first field goal until the 13:49 mark of the first half and the team’s defensive effort was equally lacking, as UNCG built a lead of as many as 14 at 23-9.
The Bucs rallied at that point thanks to the efforts of Riley – who scored 20 first-half points and basically fueled the team’s offensive revival. In the end, the Bucs got to within one at 42-41 before the Spartans were able to finish on a spurt and enjoy a 47-43 advantage at the intermission.
In the second half, the Bucs were finally able to take their first lead of the game when a Riley layup made it 53-52 with 14:03 left in regulation. However, the Spartans responded with an 8-0 run of their own to make it 60-53 with 12:45 left.
The Bucs responded with an 11-2 burst to regain the lead at 64-62 and the two teams proceeded to trade the lead three times before UNCG found itself holding a 77-73 advantage with 2:39 left in the game. From there, the Bucs were unable to catch the Spartans, as a free throw by Sadler made it a four point game with four seconds left. Rembert then hit a three at the buzzer to make it an 80-79 final.
Rembert eclipsed 1,000 for his career with a 3-pointer at the 7:28 mark of the second half. Meanwhile, Saddler was joined by four other teammates who scored 12 points apiece, giving the Spartans five players in double figures for the game. As a team, ETSU shot an impressive 88 percent from the free throw line (22-of-25), while outscoring UNCG 43-8 in points off the bench.
ETSU will now hit the road for three straight games, beginning with a trip to Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday, Dec. 16 in Richmond, Ky. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2014-15 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.