SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Jan. 24, 2015) – The ETSU men’s basketball team overcame a large second half deficit, but the rally fell short as Wofford held off the Buccaneers 72-64 in Southern Conference play Saturday evening inside Benjamin Johnson Arena.
Trailing by as many as 21 midway through the second half, the Bucs (12-7, 6-4 SoCon) cut the Terriers’ lead to four twice in the final 1:38 of regulation. However, Wofford (16-5, 7-1) made plays down the stretch to secure the win, holding the Bucs to just three made 3-pointers on the night and out-rebounding ETSU, 39-25.
“I was really proud of the effort our guys showed to come back from 21 down and have a shot at the end,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “I’m really concerned about the rebounding numbers because that’s something we just haven’t been able to correct. We need to get our guys like Rashawn (Rembert) some more shots, and that’s on me. We have to do more to get him some looks.”
It was indeed a rough night for Rembert and Lester Wilson (Knoxville), who combined for just five points. Meanwhile, senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) scored most of his game-high 25 points during the Bucs’ rally and was joined by only one other Buccaneer in double figures, as sophomore forward A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) pitched in 12 points.
While the first 30 minutes of play did not look good for the Bucs, the final 10 minutes looked like a game between two of the contenders in the SoCon standings. The rally ultimately had everything, including a double technical foul on Bartow and Wofford head coach Mike Young.
The technical came as Wofford was shooting a pair of free throws and Bartow attempted to talk to Rembert on the sidelines in front of the ETSU bench. Wofford’s Spender Collins came to stand right next to Rembert and listen in on the conversation. When Bartow attempted to stand between Rembert and Collins, Young then came down the floor, leaving the coaching box to see what was happening at the ETSU bench. The officials then administered a technical to each coach.
As for the game itself, both teams struggled offensively in the early going, but the Terriers ultimately used some relentless rebounding to outscore the Bucs 9-0 on second chance points and lead 30-23 at the break. Wofford was led by senior forward Lee Skinner, who netted nine points and grabbed five rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play.
Meanwhile, ETSU’s Rembert, Riley and Wilson struggled to get going offensively, combining to score just five points before the intermission. While the Bucs shot a respectable 42 percent from the floor in the first half, they were just 1-of-5 from 3-point range and had just one offensive rebound in the first half – and that was a team rebound on a loose ball out of bounds.
The second half could not have started worse for the Bucs, as the Terriers heated up from the outside and went on a 14-2 run to build a 44-25 lead with 15:53 left in regulation. The lead eventually grew to 21 at 49-28 with 13:14 left in regulation, but the Bucs didn’t go away.
An 11-2 run followed by an 11-0 spurt helped the Bucs get it to six at 56-50, and they eventually got to within four at 60-56 following another 6-0 run. However, after trading a pair of buckets, ETSU came up empty on back-to-back possessions, while Wofford’s all-conference guard Karl Cochran hit a pair of free throws and dunk one home to help spur a 6-0 run and make it a 10-point game with less than a minute left.
For the Terriers, Cochran finished with a game-high 14 points, while Skinner finished with a double-double on 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bucs will be back on the road in SoCon play on Thursday, traveling to take on Furman in Greenville, S.C. Game time is set 7 p.m. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2014-15 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.