JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Another furious second-half comeback fell short at the final buzzer, as the Bulldogs fended off the Bucs for a 69-59 victory on Wednesday night.
ETSU’s Jordan King scored just seconds into the game off the opening tip, as the home squad held an early 15-8 advantage. However, a two-handed slam from Achor Achor knotted the game up, 18-18.
The two teams traded blows back and forth for the remainder of the half, but the Bulldogs sunk the last shot – a three-pointer from Jermaine Marshall beat the buzzer. As a result, Samford took a slight 35-33 lead into the locker room.
The Bulldogs extended their lead early in the second half to as many as 12 points. However, as they have for much of the year, the Bucs battled back on their home floor.
ETSU came as close as two points with still 7:20 play, but they would get no closer. Two crucial buckets from A.J. Staton-McCray sealed the deal for Samford in the final two minutes.
Both teams shot an identical 44 percent from the field, but the Bucs were out-rebounded (38-31) and allowed ten offensive rebounds.
“Yeah it felt different,” ETSU forward Jalen Haynes said, “but it goes down to simple things, simple plays, missed box outs and rebounds. They played a little tougher in between our little run that we had to calm it down. So, just credit to them.”
Haynes led the ETSU offensive effort with 18 points and chipped in eight rebounds. Justice Smith also finished in double-figures with eleven points.
Samford was paced by Logan Dye, who scored 19 points, while Jermaine Marshall notched a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
ETSU head coach Desmond Oliver believes his team was not playing up to the ETSU standard in the past few days, but says, despite the loss, tonight’s effort got them back on track.
“If we bring that same effort every single night that we’re playing with this group – I’d say that there’s a lot of wins coming,” he said. “But, listen, more importantly than that – I’m past that. It’s a standard. We will not get back to championship basketball at ETSU until my players know what the standard is.”
The Bucs have now dropped seven-straight games at home, which is the longest streak since at least the 1957-58 season.
ETSU (7-13, 3-4 SoCon) hits the road again this weekend. A matchup at Chattanooga is slated for 3 p.m. on Saturday.