CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 4, 2013) – The ETSU men’s basketball team got its first road win of the season, but it didn’t come easy.
Freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson), along with junior guards Jalen Riley (Racine, Wisc.) and Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) each scored a team-high 18 points – while Merriweather also collected a double-double with 11 rebounds – as the Buccaneers overcame a second half deficit to rally past Austin Peay 80-74 in non-conference hoops action Wednesday inside the Dunn Center.
With the win, ETSU improved to 4-5 on the year, while Ohio Valley Conference member Austin Peay dropped to 4-4 on the sseason.
“A really good win, especially to be down by four in the second half, we showed a lot of fight and resilience to get this win,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team also showed improvement in the paint by outrebounding the Govs, 41-33. “We had guys make plays tonight.
“Jalen comes off the bench and basically we aren’t in the game without his scoring. I have no words to describe A.J., but he is just relentless on the glass and a special player. And Rashawn stepped up like a veteran and made big shots for us down the stretch.”
Despite a comfortable 11-point halftime lead, the Bucs squandered that advantage quickly in the second half, as the Govs opened on a 21-6 run to take a 54-50 lead with just over 12 minutes left. The Bucs finally managed to get back into a flow on offense, tying the game at 56-56 on a layup by Merriweather with nine minutes remaining on the clock.
From there it was a back-and-forth game until Rembert scored 10 of the Bucs’ 12 points during a 12-5 run that made it 75-69 with two minutes left in the game. Unfortunately for ETSU, Austin Peay didn’t go away, scoring a basket and then taking advantage of an ETSU turnover to nail a 3-pointer that made it 75-74 with 50 seconds left in the contest.
At that point, Riley missed a jumper, but Merriweather again came through with a decisive offensive rebound that resulted in a pair of free throw makes by Rembert. That 3-point lead then held up as the Bucs made 3-of-4 foul shots to close out the game.
While it was a battle at the end, ETSU got off to a great start in the game and appeared ready to cruise to a win.
After falling behind 2-0, the Bucs took the lead on a Rembert 3-pointer and never trailed the rest of the way during the first half. Using a zone defense to force 12 turnovers by the Governors and shooting 55 percent from the floor, the Bucs took a game that was tied at 23-23 and proceeded to outscore Austin Peay 21-10 to close out the half and lead 44-33 at the break.
ETSU’s offense in the first half dished out an impressive 12 assists, and got a lift from its reserves, as Riley came off the bench to net a team-best 10 points, while Merriweather also provided 10.
Austin Peay got a game-high 20 points from Travis Betran, while Ed Dyson and Chris Horton added 15 and 13 points, respectively.
The Bucs will return to action on Saturday at 2 p.m., taking on Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech in Atlanta. For more on the ETSU men’s basketball team throughout the 2013-14 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.