|December 29, 2022||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||WOF|
|FG Percentage||.458 (27-59)||.387 (24-62)|
|3P FG Percentage||.500 (10-20)||.161 (5-31)|
|FT Percentage||.692 (9-13)||.857 (18-21)|
Mack - 17
Strothers - 1
Taylor - 1
Paveletzke - 1
Tripp - 1
Silas - 1
Mack - 1
Mack - 1
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Dec. 29, 2022) – A new season meant a new look for the Buccaneers.
After dropping its last five games by a combined 14 points, the ETSU men’s basketball team flipped the script in Thursday’s Southern Conference opener. Behind a 20-point performance by Justice Smith (Lyons, N.Y.) and Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) scoring his 1,000th career point, the Buccaneers got a final stop by Josh Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) in the final seconds, carrying ETSU to a 73-71 win at Wofford inside Richardson Indoor Stadium.
The Bucs, who led by as many as 10 points in the second half, saw the Terriers charge back to tie things up at 65; however, King stepped up with back-to-back threes – the final resulting in the milestone bucket – and the Blue and Gold never relinquished the lead. After Wofford got the ball back following a traveling call on King with four seconds left, Jackson Sivills was fed the rock in the paint but Taylor defended the play to perfection as the Buccaneer forward never let him get a shot off as time expired sending the Buccaneer faithful into a frenzy.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Neither team got off to a hot start but both teams finished strong in the first half with the Bucs scoring the last six points to cut their deficit to three at the break, 34-31.
ETSU faced its largest deficit of the half at 34-25 with 1:16 left before intermission, but Smith and Tipler hit from long distance in the closing seconds to take momentum into the locker room.
Wofford jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the opening four minutes of the contest and the Blue and Gold scored six of the next eight points to pull even at 9-9 when Jalen Haynes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) made the first of two free throws with 11:58 remaining in the half.
From there, Wofford controlled the next 10-plus minutes as they scored five straight points and saw its lead grow to nine before ETSU hit back-to-back triples to find a spark going into halftime.
Both teams made 12 field goals in the opening 20 minutes, while ETSU was plus-3 from beyond the arc – going 4-of-11 compared to Wofford hitting one of its 17 attempts. The Terriers held the upper hand at the free throw line as they were 9-of-9 and the Bucs went 3-for-7. Smith and Jancek combined for 18 of ETSU’s 31 first-half points.
ETSU carried the momentum over into the second half as the Buccaneer run extended to 15-4, and the Blue and Gold regained a 40-38 lead when Allen Strothers (Newport News, Va.) drove in for a lay-up with 15:41 showing on the clock.
From there, the lead changed hands three times, but with the game tied at 44, ETSU used a 10-2 run to go up eight, 54-46. The surge ended with a massive block by Seymour that led to Strothers feeding an incredible pass to Jamarius Hairston (Salisbury, N.C.) for a fastbreak lay-up with 10:08 remaining.
One minute later, the Bucs’ lead grew to 10 when Seymour laid one in, making it a 59-49 score.
ETSU was unable to push the margin any further and Wofford – who missed 23 of its first 24 shots from beyond the arc – heated up from long range. The Terriers had a stretch where they netted three of four from downtown and eventually tied the game at 65 with just under five minutes remaining.
After playing in so many close battles in non-conference play, the Bucs learned from those outcomes and got over the hump. King ignited the closing run with the consecutive three-pointers to go up 71-65 at the 2:43 mark.
Wofford was able to clip the deficit to 73-70 when Jackson Paveletzke netted a three with 1:34 remaining and Corey Tripp made it a two-point deficit after he was fouled and made one of two free throws in the final minute.
The Bucs came up empty on their final possession and Wofford had the final opportunity to extend the game. The first look came on a Mack three-point attempt that was off the mark – and after King grabbed the rebound – he was whistled for a travel as he was falling to the floor, which gave the Terriers one final look. With four ticks showing on the clock, the Bucs didn’t allow Wofford to get a shot off and ETSU held on for the win.
ETSU closes out 2022 at VMI on Saturday with a 1 p.m. tip-off inside Cameron Hall.
For more information on Buccaneer men’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball page.