|February 28, 2015||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||MER|
|FG Percentage||.328 (20-61)||.400 (24-60)|
|3P FG Percentage||.353 (12-34)||.280 (7-25)|
|FT Percentage||.800 (12-15)||.667 (14-21)|
- 24||Darious Moten
- 7||Phillip Leonard
Jordan Strawberry - 4
- 3||Jibri Bryan
Darious Moten - 2
- 2||Stephon Jelks
T.J. Hallice - 1
Darious Moten - 1
MACON, Ga. (Feb. 28, 2015) – For the second game in a row, the ETSU men’s basketball team had to watch an opposing player hit a game-winning shot in the fleeting moments of regulation.
With Saturday’s game against Mercer tied at 64, the Bears Jibri Bryan sank a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left and the Buccaneers were unable to get a good shot off on their final possession, as ETSU dropped a 69-64 loss to the Bears in Southern Conference basketball play at the University Center.
With the regular season now at a close, the Bucs (16-13 overall, 8-10 SoCon) will begin preparations for the Southern Conference Tournament, which will be played next weekend in Asheville, N.C. ETSU will enter the tournament as the No. 5 seed and will face Western Carolina at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. Meanwhile, Mercer will enter as the No. 3 seed and will play either VMI or UNC Greensboro in the opening round depending on Saturday night’s results.
“I thought we played toe-to-toe with them throughout the game and got off to a great start,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team led by as many as 13 points in the first half and seven in the second half. “We just didn’t do what we needed to do on those offensive possessions late in the game, and they had a player make a big shot.”
ETSU finished the game hitting 12 3-pointers and getting a game-high 24 points from senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), while junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) netted 18 points after collecting 17 in the first half on five made 3-pointers. Mercer had five players reach double figures led by senior Darious Moten’s 16 points.
Following Bryan’s game-winning shot, the Bucs did have a possession in the final seconds, but Riley took an off-balanced 3-point attempt. While ETSU’s A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) grabbed the offensive rebound, he lost control of the ball to Mercer. The Bears’ Ike Nwamu was then fouled with .9 seconds left and hit two free throws to ice the win.
In the first half, the Bucs were deadly from 3-point range, hitting eight threes before the break and shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc. Those numbers helped the Bucs build a lead of as many as 13 points at 27-14 with 8:19 left in the first half.
However, at that point Mercer used a 14-0 run to take its only lead of the half at 28-27, but Wilson and Riley regained the advantage for the Bucs with back-to-back 3-pointers that made it 33-28. ETSU ultimately led 38-34 at halftime thanks mainly to Wilson’s fifth 3-pointer of the first half, which closed out the team’s scoring with less than 30 seconds left before the intermission.
After the break, the Bucs hit a pair of early 3-pointers to lead by seven at 46-39, but Mercer responded with a 17-4 run to take its largest lead of the game at 56-50 with 6:48 left on the clock. ETSU answered that run with a 9-1 spurt of its own – powered by a pair of 3-pointers from Riley and three free throws from Rembert – taking the lead back at 59-57 with 3:51 remaining in regulation.
The game was back and forth at that point until Mercer had the ball with 21.4 seconds left on the game clock and eight left on the shot clock. Bears’ head coach Bob Hoffman called timeout to set a play, and ultimately Bryan found himself open from beyond the arc, hitting the shot with 16 seconds left.
For the game, ETSU held its own on the glass, only being out-rebounded 42-41. The Bucs shot just 32.8 percent from the floor but did shoot 35.3 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line. Mercer shot 40 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3-point range.
For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the end of the 2014-15 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.