The most anticipated rivalry of the season came home to Johnson City on Feb. 13, but the ETSU men’s basketball team was unable to turn out the much-wanted victory.
The Chattanooga Mocs and the Buccaneers battled it out in Freedom Hall, with a breaking record SoCon attendance of 5,601. The arena was loud and eager to cheer on coach Steve Forbes and the Bucs.
The Bucs held a small lead at the beginning of the game, going back and forth from down a basket to up a basket, until Chattanooga pulled away, making it an 11-point game at halftime.
Turnovers was the name of the game on both sides, with ETSU totaling 7 at the half and 13 overall and Chattanooga totaling 4 at the half and 13 overall. Many times, the turnovers cost the Bucs valuable minutes and baskets that would have kept them more in the game.
It was these turnovers, lack of rebounds and the 50/50 plays that Chattanooga continued to take advantage of that caused the Bucs to fall short.
“When you’re in a tight, high-level game you have to convert those [plays],” Forbes said. “Those things add up when you’re playing good competition, and you’re not going to win fighting like that.”
The Bucs were down by 10 almost the entire second half, unable to finish the baskets that could have put them more in the race.
Starter and senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) completed 10-18 total shots on the night and 0-5 at the three-point line.
“We couldn’t execute our plays, and we got frustrated,” Guyn said.
The frustration showed in the multiple rebound attempts by the Bucs that ended up in the hands of Chattanooga players because they couldn’t hold onto the ball.
Guyn recognized that Chattanooga “came out with more energy than us,” and it played a factor in the final 76-68 game.
It was vital that regardless of the missed shots, the players would come back and continue to fight, but at times the pity of missing began to show.
Chattanooga is now 12-2 in SoCon play and holds first place in the conference. ETSU is tied with Wofford for third. Forbes regrets that the team was not able to give enough to the record-breaking crowd at Freedom Hall, but he and the Bucs were back on Feb. 15 to host the Western Carolina Catamounts.