|February 18, 2017||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||UTC|
|FG Percentage||.532 (25-47)||.422 (19-45)|
|3P FG Percentage||.467 (7-15)||.300 (6-20)|
|FT Percentage||.667 (8-12)||.583 (7-12)|
A.J. MERRIWEATHER - 15
TEVIN GLASS - 8
A.J. MERRIWEATHER - 4
A.J. MERRIWEATHER - 3
JERMAINE LONG - 3
Tre' McLean - 2
DESONTA BRADFORD - 1
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 18, 2017) – It is appropriate that Chattanooga’s home floor is nicknamed the “Roundhouse,” because the ETSU men’s basketball team ran circles around the Mocs Saturday evening.
Enjoying its best defensive effort of the season and a 17-0 offensive run midway through the second half, the Buccaneers made a statement on the home floor of the defending Southern Conference champions, besting UTC 65-51 in front of 6,402 fans at the McKenzie Center.
With the win and Furman’s loss to UNC Greensboro earlier in the day, the Bucs (22-6, 12-3) are now tied for first place in the loss column of the SoCon standings with the Paladins. ETSU will host Furman Wednesday at Freedom Hall. Meanwhile, Chattanooga – who celebrated its 1977 NCAA Division II national championship during the game and had its largest home crowd of the season – dropped to 19-8, 10-5.
“I told our guys before the game that we had to do three things: play gritty, play grimy and play together, and that’s what we did,” said ETSU head coach Steve Forbes, whose team won at UTC and swept the season series over the Mocs for the first time since 2003-04. “We knew they would make a run and Matt (McCall) has a fabulous team. I have a lot of respect for them and knew it was going to be tough.
“After our last game against Samford, I didn’t think we defended very well, but we were much better tonight. We changed some things up and I think it worked. It seemed to keep them off balance.”
Indeed, the defensive package employed by ETSU was effective, holding the Mocs to a season low 20 points in the first half and UTC had just 39 points with 2:05 left in the game, before scoring a quick 12 points in the final minutes. Man-to-man, 1-3-1 zone, match-up zones, and even defensive styles that would change during a single UTC possession, forced the Mocs into 19 turnovers and led to 14 steals by the Bucs. Moreover, the Bucs used those miscues by UTC to outscore the Mocs 26-13 off turnovers.
For the night, ETSU was led by a game high 15 points from senior guards A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.), while senior post Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) had 10. Glass was perfect from the field for the second-straight game, going 5-of-5 from outside, while Merriweather was 6-of-7 from the floor. Meanwhile, the Mocs were led by 11 from senior Tre’ McLean and 10 from senior Johnathan Burroughs-Cook.
Prior to tonight, the lowest first half point total for any ETSU opponent this year was 22 by South Dakota State back in November at the Sanford Pentagon Showcase. On this night, the Bucs held UTC to 20 points before the break and used a 10-0 offensive run to build its largest lead of the half at 20-12, ultimately holding a 24-20 advantage at the intermission.
After the break, Chattanooga made its best run of the game, using a 7-2 spurt to open the half and take the lead at 27-26 with 18:15 left in regulation. However, at that point, the ETSU defense again took over. Utilizing a 1-3-1 zone that would morph into an active man-to-man, the Bucs held the Mocs scoreless for the next 6:15 of game play and went on a 17-0 run of its own during that span.
When a Mocs’ free throw finally snapped the Bucs’ run and the smoke had cleared, ETSU led 43-27 with 12 minutes left in regulation. From there, the Bucs’ lead grew to as many as 21 at the 4:54 mark when a traditional 3-point play by Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) made it 57-36. The Mocs’ fans headed for the exits at that point.
For the game, ETSU out-rebounded the Mocs 30-24 and the Bucs’ bench outscored UTC 17-12. ETSU also shot an impressive 53 percent from the field, 47 percent from 3-point range and 73 percent from the foul line.
The Bucs will now return home for a much-anticipated rematch with Furman Wednesday night inside Freedom Hall at 7 p.m. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2016-17 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.