With only a few seconds on the clock, with fans on their feet and with emotion filling the court, the ETSU men’s basketball team found a way to fight through the pressure.
Saturday night’s game against The Citadel made two games last week that the team went into overtime with their opponent. Thursday night they defeated Mercer in overtime, 65-63 and Saturday they defeated The Citadel, 101-92.
A layup with 14 seconds remaining in the final half by ETSU’s Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) tied the game. The Citadel’s Warren Sledge (Keller, Texas) missed the free throw that could have put his team ahead, and the Bucs forced the game into overtime.
“It definitely left the door open when they missed the free throw,” Guyn said.
“We were locked in like we should have been the entire game, we locked in late and got the win. … We have to win these types of games to win the championship, so I feel like we’re gearing ourselves to do that.”
Despite the Bucs only outscoring The Citadel in rebounds by five, a big chunk of those rebounds came from Junior forward Issac Banks as he finished with 11 rebounds. Banks’ ability to get to the ball is beginning to look like a big part of his game as he pulled down 14 rebounds in the previous game against Mercer.
“Coach always gets onto us about rebounding,” Banks said. “He tells us big men that we have to box out and we have to pursue the ball with two hands. I’ve been keeping that in my head as I continue to go after the ball. … I pursue the ball like my life was on the line.”
It doesn’t stop there. In the game against The Citadel, Banks achieved his career high in scoring with 20 points, and tied with Guyn for the top scorers in the game.
Scoring came from all around for the Bucs as they distributed the ball well. Five ETSU players ended in double figures: Banks with 20, Guyn with 20, T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) with 14, Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) with 14 and Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) with 11.
The first half seemed pretty one-sided as the Bucs led for the majority of it. It wasn’t until the second half when the Bucs were ahead 58-48 with 16:07 remaining that the crowd sat back in relief … but not for long. Starting with a completed jump shot by The Citadel’s Quayson Williams (Greensboro, N.C.), The Citadel went on a 28-17 run for the next 10 minutes ending with a 3-pointer from Williams, giving them a 76-75 lead over ETSU with 6:15 remaining in the game.
After the second quarter several lead changes followed, but when both teams entered overtime the Bucs completed six of their seven shots.
“It wasn’t pretty, and I’ll give The Citadel all the credit because they play a style we haven’t seen and I haven’t coached much against,” said ETSU head coach Steve Forbes. “We didn’t get off to the best start offensively in the first half, and just didn’t do the things we needed to do, but we will do a better job of facing that style of play next time.”
The team is now 6-1 in the Southern Conference and are tied for No. 1 with Chattanooga.
The Bucs will hit the road on Thursday, Jan. 28 to take on Wofford in Spartanburg, S.C. at 7 p.m.