The Bucs needed this win against Mercer to stay in the race for a No. 2 seed in the Southern Conference tournament.
Currently tied for third with Furman, the Bucs knew coming into the game they could finish no lower than the fourth seed.
Wofford locked up the first seed with their conference win over UNCG. Hosting Mercer at Freedom Hall, the Bucs looked to get their 11th conference win.
The Bucs and Mercer started the game off equal, neither really forcing outside shots. Instead, both teams went inside and attacked from the perimeter.
With less than seven minutes to play in the first half leading 20-18, the Bucs started to extend their lead. Four minutes left in the half, a lead that was once two points increased to 12 points for ETSU.
At the end of the first half, the Bucs’ defense held Mercer to only 21 points and forced the Bears to shoot below 30 percent from field goal and from three. Despite not shooting as well as they would have liked, the Bucs shot the ball well from the free-throw line.
The Bucs went to the free throw line 19 times in the first half, connecting on 16. Lucas N’Guessan (De Lier, Netherlands) led the Bucs in scoring for the first half with eight points, and six of those points came from the free throw line.
After a quiet first half, Jeromy Rodriguez (Santiago, Dominican Republic) really got going in the second, scoring 14 points with three steals.
The Bucs controlled the game throughout the second half.
Freshman Daivien Williamson (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) had a big imprint in the game, scoring 10 points in the half and finishing with a team-high 16 points off the bench.
“I think bringing Daivien off the bench really brought a lot of offense off the bench,” said Steve Forbes. “I really liked that a lot.”
Tray Boyd (Memphis, Tennessee) provided his facilitation in the game, finishing with 10 points and 11 assists.
“Tray had a great game,” Forbes said. “He passed it well, and our team is doing an unbelievable job sharing the basketball. I think we’re top 15 in the country in assists, and when we share it like that we’re pretty good.”
The Bucs got the win, remaining tied for third place with an 88-69 domination over Mercer.