GREENVILLE, S.C. (Jan. 19, 2017) – The ETSU men’s basketball team had not won at Furman’s Timmons Arena since a victory during the Buccaneers’ Southern Conference championship season back in 2003-04. Unfortunately, that streak will only continue.
Laboring through an inefficient offensive performance for much of the game, the Buccaneers looked on as the Paladins built a 27-point lead and then held off a late ETSU rally to take a 75-62 win in Southern Conference play Thursday night.
With the loss, the Bucs fall to 14-5 overall, 4-2 in SoCon play, and are now a full game back of Chattanooga and UNCG in the loss column of the league standings. Meanwhile, the Paladins improved to 11-8, 4-2 in league action and are now tied with ETSU and Samford for third place.
“Absolutely no fight or toughness in us tonight,” said ETSU head coach Steve Forbes. “In the 19th game of the year, we came out and played like we had arrived. We played too cool. Way too cool. We just got manhandled by Furman. I was worried about turnovers, and we had 20 tonight. We need to take better care of the ball. Then, we had some guys just not show up. You can’t have that.
“I thought our effort was poor and probably as poor as it’s been since I have been here. We are going to see what we’re made of now. We have to bounce back.”
Despite a 21-4 run late in the second half that made it a 10-point game with 4:04 left in regulation, the poor offensive numbers were just too much for ETSU to overcome. For the game, the Bucs shot just 14.3 percent from 3-point range and 37.9 percent from the field, while committing 20 turnovers.
For Furman, Kris Acox led the way with a team high 19 points and eight rebounds, while John Davis pitched in 14 and Devin Sibley added 13. The Bucs got a game-high 20 from senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.), but many of those points came with the game out of reach. Meanwhile, fellow senior A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) pitched in 12 in the losing effort, while junior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) had a career high 12 rebounds.
What was a respectable start to the game for ETSU quickly turned into a nightmare for the Bucs. After leading by a score of 11-6, ETSU looked on as Furman went on to outscore the Bucs 26-11 the rest of the first half, and went to the halftime locker room with a 32-22 advantage.
The 22 points was the lowest output in a first half this season for the Bucs, and the team shot just 30 percent from the floor and committed 10 turnovers before the break.
The opening minutes of the second half only got worse for the Bucs, as Furman raced out of the gate over the first 10 minutes to build a lead of 61-34 with 10:35 left in regulation. It was the largest deficit faced by the Bucs in a game this season.
Instead of folding and heading back to Johnson City, ETSU proceeded to hold Furman to just four points over the next six and a half minutes of game play to make it 65-55. The Bucs then got a steal and had an open look from 3-point range that would have made it a seven point game with 3:58 left, but junior guard Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.) just missed on the shot.
ETSU eventually cut the lead to nine at 71-62 and Payne had another opportunity to make it a two-possession game with 1:21 left, but that attempt also did not connect.
The Bucs will now look to get back in the win column when they return home on Sunday to take on SoCon rival Wofford at 2 p.m. inside Freedom Hall