|March 02, 2019||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||WCU||ETSU|
|FG Percentage||.455 (25-55)||.609 (28-46)|
|3P FG Percentage||.478 (11-23)||.529 (9-17)|
|FT Percentage||.867 (13-15)||.500 (16-32)|
- 23||Tray Boyd III
- 11||Bo Hodges
- 4||Bo Hodges
Marcus Thomas - 2
- 1||Bo Hodges
Mladen Armus - 3
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 2, 2019) -- The ETSU men’s basketball team escaped a scare from Western Carolina as the Buccaneers had to grind out an 81-74 win over the Catamounts in front of 5,520 fans on Saturday inside Freedom Hall.
Tray Boyd III (Memphis, Tenn.), Bo Hodges (Nashville, Tenn.) and Isaiah Tisdale (Lexington, Ky.) combined for 57 points, while the Blue and Gold shot 61 percent (28-46) from the field and 53 percent from beyond the arc (9-17) en route to improving to 23-8 overall and 13-5 in conference play. With the win, ETSU has matched the most victories over a four-year stretch with 99, which was also done from 1988-89 to 1991-92.
Boyd, who knocked down six of the Bucs’ nine three-pointers, tied a career-high with 24 points (8-of-11 shooting), while Hodges added 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks and Tisdale contributed with 13 points, three steals and two assists. Boyd registered his sixth 20-point game of the season and Hodges has now accomplished the feat twice on the last three games.
For only the third time this season, ETSU lost the battle on the boards as the Catamounts were plus-seven (32-25), snapping an 18-game run where the Bucs won the rebound margin. The Blue and Gold only generated three offensive rebounds on the night; however, ETSU converted 18 Western Carolina turnovers into 23 points and won the points in the paint by 14, 38-24. Unfortunately, the Bucs finished 16-of-32 at the free throw line with Hodges going 8-for-16 at the stripe. The Catamounts, who were called for 24 fouls and had three players foul out, went 13-of-15 at the line. ETSU’s bench managed to outscored Western Carolina’s, 35-17.
With 5,520 fans in attendance, the Bucs hit their mark to average over 5,000 fans in SoCon play for the second straight season.
In a series that has been lopsided over the years with ETSU winning eight straight, 25 of the last 26 and 14 consecutive at home against the Catamounts, Saturday’s game was far from a blowout.
The teams combined for 10 ties and 16 lead changes, but with the game knotted at 60 with 5:35 remaining, ETSU rattled off seven unanswered points to take the lead for good as Hodges found Jeromy Rodriguez (Santiago, Dominican Republic) for a dunk to make it 67-60 at the 3:58 mark.
The Bucs eventually pushed their lead to 10, 73-63, with just over two minutes to play – and after seeing Western Carolina pull within five on two different possessions in the final minute – the Blue and Gold were able to cap off the seven-point win.
In the first half, Western Carolina led by as many as seven early on as they strung together nine straight points after senior forward James Harrison Jr. (Dallas, Texas) – who made his first start as Buccaneer – scored the first bucket of the game. ETSU then responded with nine consecutive points to regain the lead, but from there, the final 13-plus minutes of the first half featured two ties and four lead changes, and the Bucs carried a 34-31 lead into the locker room.
The Catamounts were led by freshman guard Kameron Gibson as he scored a team-high 23 points and netted five of their 11 made threes. Marc Gosselin finished with a double-double (13 points and 11 rebounds), while Marcus Thomas added 15 points and seven rebounds.
As a team, Western Carolina shot 46 percent (25-55) and went 11-of-23 from beyond the arc.
With the loss, the Catamounts dropped to 7-24, 4-14 in SoCon play and will be the No. 9 seed in next week’s conference tournament. Western Carolina will face No. 8 seed VMI in Friday’s opening round play with the winner getting top-seeded Wofford at noon on Saturday.
The Bucs will now turn their attention to postseason play as ETSU opens up the Southern Conference Tournament against No. 5 seed Chattanooga on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. inside the U.S. Cellular Center. The winner of ETSU-Chattanooga will get the winner of Wofford/VMI-Western Carolina in Sunday’s semifinals at 4 p.m. Click herefor the tournament bracket.
For more information on Buccaneer men’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball link.