McCloud powers Bucs past Mastodons

JOHNSON CITY, TN- Senior Jalan McCloud (Fort Worth, Texas) has now officially introduced himself – and his game – to ETSU men’s basketball fans.

The graduate-transfer guard scored a game and career high 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists, taking over a game that was a tight contest midway through the second half, and lifting the Buccaneers to an 83-73 non-conference win over Summit League foe Fort Wayne Saturday afternoon inside Freedom Hall.

With the victory, ETSU improved to 3-3 on the year, while the Mastodons dropped to 3-3.

“I was really pleased with our entire 40-minute effort, and we knew it was going to take that against Fort Wayne because they have a nice team and are really well coached,” said ETSU head coach Steve Forbes. “They really play well on offense and had nine threes in the first half, so we made some adjustments on the ball screens in the second half and that helped. I thought Jalen had a great game and played with great energy.”

Along with McCloud’s effort, fellow senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) scored 16 points, as the Bucs finished the game shooting just under 50 percent from the floor. For the Mastodons, three players posted double-figure scoring, led by guard Bryson Scott with 24 points.

The Bucs took an offensive approach that attacked the basket from the tip, with slashing guard play that valued two-point scores over 3-pointers. It was a method that ultimately proved successful, even though early on the Mastodons looked like they may win out by relying on 3-point shots.

Case in point, the first half was an offensive showcase, with the Bucs slashing to the rim time after time and shooting 66 percent from the floor, 50 percent from 3-point range and 92 percent at the foul line. Unfortunately for the Bucs, the Mastodons were nearly as good from the field, but instead did most of their damage from 3-point range, going 9-of-18 from beyond the arc compared to the Bucs 3-of-6 clip from outside.

The result was a tight game at the half, but the Bucs did manage to build a little breathing room thanks to a dramatic half-court shot from McCloud as the clock expired. That bucket gave McCloud a game high 19 points at the break and spotted the Bucs a 52-47 lead heading into the intermission.

In the second half, the Bucs led by six at 56-51 before going scoreless over a five-minute stretch of game play, allowing Fort Wayne to tie it at 56. That’s when McCloud and Bradford reasserted themselves, combining to score 12 of the Bucs next 14 points to power a 14-2 offensive run that basically put the game away.

Fort Wayne did manage to cut the lead to five thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers with just under two minutes left, but from there ETSU went 6-of-6 at the foul line to ice the game. The Bucs held Fort Wayne to just 24 percent shooting in the second half and a 15.8 percent clip from 3-point range in the second half, quite a contrast from the first half numbers.

ETSU finished the game with a 44-26 advantage on points in the paint, and outscored the Mastodons bench 24-7. The Bucs also shot an impressive 84.8 percent from the charity stripe, going 28-of-33 from the line.

The Bucs will now hit the road for a trip to New York City, where they will take on Fordham Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Bronx. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2017-18 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.

Courtesy: East Tennessee State Athletics

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