The Bucs’ 16-game winning streak was snapped in their previous game against University of North Carolina-Greensboro on the road. The loss put them one game above UNCG in the conference standings.
“We’ve got to regroup and go back to work,” said Head Coach Steve Forbes, following the Bucs loss to UNCG.
On Saturday, the Bucs traveled to face Western Carolina. The Bucs came into Saturday with a 22-5 record, winning 13 of their last 14 conference games.
Western Carolina came into the match-up with a 12-15 record and an even 7-7 record in conference play.
The start of the first half was quiet in the first couple of minutes until Western Carolina scored two points followed by a Jermaine Long (New Orleans, Louisiana) three-pointer to give the Bucs a 3-2 lead.
With 14 minutes remaining in the first half, freshman Bo Hodges (Nashville, Tennessee) scored two plus the foul and gave the Bucs a 14-7 lead.
Eight minutes left in the first half meant the Bucs were able to push their lead to 11 when senior Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tennessee) scored a layup to give the Bucs a 26-15 lead.
At the half, the Bucs led 40-25 and Hodges physicality and energy off the bench made a real impact for the Bucs.
Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Illinois) really got going at the start of the second half. Payne scored 11 points in the first four minutes of the half to increase the Bucs’ lead to 51-28 forcing Western Carolina to call a timeout.
“Devontavius hit some big threes then we kinda went back and forth from there,” said Forbes. “We actually lost the second half because we were up 15 at the half.”
The Bucs defense did well, forcing Western Carolina to shoot below 40 percent from the field and just 30 percent from three.
Offensively the Bucs were solid, making 47 percent of their shots and making 45 percent of their 3-pointers. Most importantly, the Bucs out-rebounded Western Carolina by 20 with 14 being offensive rebounds.
The Bucs won 72-61, improving their record to 23-5 and 14-1 in conference play. Payne and Hodges led the Bucs in scoring, Payne with 22 points and Hodges with 17.
This game against Western Carolina was the last away game for the Bucs as they finish the season out at Freedom Hall, with senior night Sunday, Feb.25.
“Going into next week we got to take care of the ball better,” said Forbes.