After suffering a disappointing loss to the Furman Paladins Thursday night, the ETSU men’s basketball team was back at Freedom Hall Saturday night to face North Carolina Central University.
The Eagles came into the game having won 10 straight games.
This would be just the second time that these two teams had met. Their last meeting was in 1979, with the Bucs winning on that night.
The Bucs came back after being down by as much as 14 points in the second half to eventually win the game 61-59.
ETSU came into the game Saturday night with a 12-8 record, and a 6-5 conference record, which puts them fourth in the conference.
After jumping out to an 8-1 lead to start the game, the Buccaneers struggled the rest of the half.
North Carolina Central led at halftime, 38-35.
At the half, AJ Merriweather was the leading scorer for ETSU with nine points, and three assists. The team was 12 for 33 in the first half, going 4 for 16 from behind the 3-point line.
North Carolina Central shot 6 for 12 from 3-point range in the first half. The Eagles shot 3 for 4 in the first half from the free throw line, while the Bucs did not take a single free throw.
In the second half, the lead got up to as much as 14, but ETSU capped off a comeback in the last 10 minutes, with Jalen Riley hitting the shot that gave ETSU the lead and the win.
ETSU was down 58-47 with 5:29 to play in the game when coach Murry Bartow called a timeout, and ETSU never looked back from there.
“It was a great win for our team, and I am just so proud of our team,” Bartow said. “After the loss at Furman and Wofford for our guys to fight back like that was great.”
The Bucs shot 5 for 13 from 3-point range in the second half, and went 9 for 29 behind the arc for the whole game, while the Eagles shot 11 for 25 from 3-point range.
Jalen Riley ended the game with 24 points in 30 minutes. Riley went 5 for 11 from beyond 3-point range, including the game winner.
“We left it all on the floor and play in the moment we were in, not looking back in the past,” Riley said.
“We needed to come together and have this win over a good North Carolina team like this.”
The Bucs will play again at Freedom Hall against conference leading Wofford on Thursday night. This win brought their record to 13-8 for the season.