Putting together its best all-around effort so far this season, the ETSU men’s basketball team remained perfect inside Freedom Hall Civic Center with a 66-58 victory over Stephen F. Austin Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Buccaneers are now a perfect 2-0 in the three-game First Bank and Trust Company Roundball Showcase at Freedom Hall, and improved to 2-4 overall on the year. Meanwhile, the Lumberjacks – a team that went 27-5 last year and won a regular season championship in the Southland Conference– dropped to 3-2 on the season.
“That’s a good, good win – one of the best we’ve had here in a long time,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “This was a really good, really well-coached Stephen F. Austin team. I thought as a team we got a lot of great individual performances, but I’m also very proud of our entire team and the effort tonight.”
Those impressive individual performances included junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.), who finished with a team-high 18 points and collected two steals in 40 minutes of action. In addition, freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) scored 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds in 34 minutes of play, senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) finished with 10 points and five boards, and sophomore point Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) provided stability down the stretch with eight points and two assists on the night.
Despite falling behind by 10 early in the first half, the Bucs used a 19-4 run of their own to answer the challenge and build a 27-22 edge with 4:03 left in the first half. Ultimately, the Bucs would lead by six at the break, 32-26.
In the second half, ETSU basically held a double-digit advantage most of the way and led by as many as 13 at 46-33 with 12:59 left. The Lumberjacks managed to rally however, pulling to within four following back-to-back 3-pointers from Deshaunt Walker and Jacob Parker to make it 58-54 with 1:36 left in the game. The Bucs did not faltered despite the run, and answered by managing the clock and protecting the basketball the rest of the way.
As a team, ETSU shot 50 percent from the floor, 44 percent from 3-point range and 74 percent at the charity stripe, while holding SFA to just 39 percent from the floor and 17 percent from the arc. The Bucs also out-rebounded the Lumberjacks 33-32.
For SFA, Parker scored a game-high 19 points, while Walker finished with 13.
The Bucs will return to action on the road Tuesday night at former Ohio Valley Conference foe Tennessee Tech, with game time set for 8 p.m. (EST). ETSU will then return to Freedom Hall for the final game of the First Bank and Trust Roundball Showcase on Saturday, Nov. 30 against Marshall at 4 p.m.
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