GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 27, 2017) – The ETSU men’s basketball team had to settle for a share of the Southern Conference regular season title, but the real goal still lies ahead later this week at the league tournament in Asheville, N.C.
Having rallied from a 16-point, second-half deficit to tie the game with four minutes left in regulation, the Buccaneers’ momentum faded down the stretch as SoCon foe UNC Greensboro dropped the Bucs 72-66 Monday night inside the Greensboro Coliseum.
With the loss, the Bucs fall to 24-7 overall, 14-4 in SoCon play, while the Spartans improve to 23-8, 14-4. The outcome also led to a three-way tie for the SoCon regular season title, with UNCG earning the No. 1 seed, Furman the No. 2 seed, and ETSU the No. 3 seed. The Bucs will now face Mercer in the quarterfinals of the league tournament Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
“We had our chances to win,” said ETSU head coach Steve Forbes, whose team saw its six-game winning streak come to an end. “Getting down early in the second half wasn’t good, but we cut it to single digits with 10 to go and tied it up late. I’m not going to fault my team’s effort. We played our guts out.”
The Bucs were led offensively by the inside duo of senior forwards Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.), who combined to score 32 points, with Mosquera-Perea netting a team high 18 points and Glass adding 14. In addition, senior A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) finished with 13.
For UNC Greensboro, guard Francis Alonso scored a game high 23 points, while forward RJ White finished with a double-double on 16 points and 11 rebounds.
In the first half, the Bucs’ defensive effort was strong, holding UNCG to 38 percent shooting from the floor and forcing nine turnovers. However, ETSU’s offense also struggled with seven turnovers and a 39 percent shooting clip, allowing the Spartans to keep the score close.
Even with those offensive issues, the Bucs still found themselves leading the game at 26-22 with just over two minutes left in the half. At that point, however, the Spartans’ offense woke up with a 9-2 run to close the half and take a 31-28 advantage into the break.
The second half started in a nightmarish fashion for the Bucs, as Alonso scored eight points to power a 15-3 run by the Spartans and stake UNCG to a 46-31 lead with 16:07 left in regulation. The lead stayed 16 until the 12:25 mark at 55-39, as the Bucs went to a full-court press and started to surge, outscoring Greensboro 20-4 over the next nine minutes of play to tie the game at 59-59 with 3:54 left in regulation.
Unfortunately, from there the Spartans outscored ETSU 13-7 to win by six.
The Bucs will return to play this weekend in the Southern Conference Tournament, taking on Mercer at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night in Asheville, N.C.