ETSU put their nine-game winning streak on the line facing Western Carolina at Freedom Hall. The Bucs came into the game having not lost a game in the Southern Conference after beating Furman on a buzzer beater the previous game. Once again in the SoCon, the Bucs prevailed over the Catamounts, 66-50.
At the first media timeout, the Bucs led 5-0. Their defense forced Western Carolina to start 0 for 6.
At the 11:43 mark in the first half the Bucs led 11-2 with Western Carolina shooting 9 percent. Despite playing good defense and with the lead, the Bucs offense had its issues shooting just 36 percent.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the first half, the Bucs led 16-11 with Western Carolina fortunate the Bucs were not able to convert on open shots. During that stretch, the Bucs went one of eight from three.
With two minutes remaining in the first half, the Bucs led 24 to 15, forcing eight Western Carolina turnovers.
The Bucs extended to an 11-point lead at the half after Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tennessee) hit a three-pointer at the buzzer. Bradford led the Bucs in scoring with nine points at the half making three of five shots.
As a team, the Bucs shot 43 percent in the first half. The only thing keeping Western Carolina in the game was the Bucs’ struggle from outside, shooting just 18 percent in the first half. However, the Bucs’ defense held Western Carolina to shooting just 31 percent for the half.
The Bucs came out the second half with a 7-0 run in the first two minutes to lead 38-20. With 16 minutes remaining in the second half, the Bucs led 39-25. After five straight Western Carolina points Head Coach Steve Forbes called a timeout to calm his team.
With 12 minutes remaining in the game the Bucs led 48-33, with their offense keeping the lead in double digits.
At the media timeout at eight minutes, the Bucs led by 13 points, but Western Carolina was starting to get momentum converting off the Bucs turnovers. The Bucs lead increased at the four-minute media timeout as they led 63-43.
“I think their physicality bothered us offensively at times driving the ball not finishing and not making open shots,” said Forbes. “I give Western Carolina credit for their defensive scheme.”
The Bucs won 66-50 to push their winning streak to 10. Bradford led all scorers with 16 and made his presence felt in every statistical category.
“I thought defensively we were really solid all game,” said Forbes.
ETSU improved to 16-4 overall and 7-0 in the SoCon. They will host Mercer Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m.