LEXINGTON, Va. (Jan. 17, 2015) – A season high 25 turnovers and poor offensive execution doomed the ETSU men’s basketball team Saturday afternoon inside Cameron Hall, as the Buccaneers fell to Southern Conference foe VMI 85-79.
Despite playing without their leading scorer QJ Peterson – who was announced as having left VMI for a medical furlough prior to the game – the Bucs were unable to take advantage of the Keydets’ personnel issues. For the game, the Bucs shot just 36 percent from the floor and were out-rebounded 55-48 on the glass.
ETSU (10-6 overall, 5-3 SoCon) led by as many as 14 in the second half, but watched as VMI used a 19-3 run to take a four-point deficit at 68-64 and lead 83-71 with 55 seconds left in the game. With the win, the Keydets (7-12, 3-5) snapped a nine-game losing streak to ETSU, picking up their first win over the Bucs since 1999.
“When you turn it over 25 times on the road you’ve eliminated any chance of winning,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “As coaches and players, we just didn’t play well and there are no excuses. Give VMI credit for the win, but that was not a good effort on our part.”
From the outset the Bucs’ offensive rhythm was disrupted by the Keydets’ swarming full-court defense. ETSU’s guards struggled to even get the ball up the floor and those issues resulted in 13 turnovers before the intermission, as well as a 32 percent shooting percentage from the field.
Despite those offensive troubles, the Bucs still managed to keep the game tied at 32-32 by the intermission. This was in part due to the fact the Keydets were equally inept on the offensive end, as they played for the first time this season without Peterson.
For the Bucs’ offense, the start of the second half looked much better than the first half.
Opening with a 13-0 run powered in part by two 3-pointers from senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) and one from junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), ETSU built a 45-32 lead in just two minutes of play. The Bucs’ advantage grew to 14 at 49-35 before VMI responded with its own 11-0 spurt to make it 49-46 with 14 minutes left in regulation.
The game stayed close for the next nine minutes of game play and ETSU was leading 68-64 at the 5:03 mark. However, at that point the VMI pressure again stymied the Bucs, helping the Keydets manufacture a 19-3 run over the next four minutes to ultimately lead 83-71 with one minute left in the contest.
For the Bucs, sophomore Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.) was a lone bright spot, making his second career start and finishing with his first double-double thanks to 11 points and a career high 14 rebounds. Rembert finished with a team-high 19, while senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) and sophomore guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) each posted 13, and Wilson finished with 12.
For VMI, Fred Iruafemi and Trey Chapman each had a team-high 16 to lead four players in double figures. The Keydets shot just 9-of-41 from 3-point range on the night but still won the game.
The Bucs will return home to face non-conference opponent Tusculum on Monday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. inside Freedom Hall. It will mark the third game in six days for the Bucs.
For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2014-15 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.