Mercer sets pace, earns season sweep
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 22:02
After earning their first back-to-back wins this season, the ETSU men’s basketball team welcomed Atlantic Sun-leading Mercer into the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center on Saturday. The Bucs were looking to extend their streak and avenge an early season 78-59 beating at the hands of the Bears, but the game did not go the way ETSU had hoped.
The first basket of the game belonged to ETSU when sophomore Rashawn Rembert converted a layup at the 18-minute, 27-second mark to give the Bucs a 2-0 lead, the only time ETSU would hold a lead over Mercer. The Bears used a 17-1 run over the next nine plus minutes of game time to take a 14-point lead over the Bucs with ETSU’s lone point coming from junior Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard hitting one of two free throws.
Mercer’s size and length seemed to give ETSU trouble under the basket and along the baseline forcing the Bucs to settle for long shots that weren’t falling.
“They’re a veteran, experienced, talented team,” said head coach Murry Bartow. “The only way we were going to win this game was to play great. We didn’t.”
The Bucs barely broke double digits in the first half, scoring 13 points at home, just one more than they scored on the road in Chapel Hill against UNC earlier this year. Shooting just 15.8 percent during the period, no player for the Bucs converted more than one shot while the team went 6-13 from the free-throw stripe.
“We got clean looks [in the first half] we just didn’t make them,” said Bartow. “If we had made a few of those clean looks and made some free throws we might have been just a point or two at the half.”
ETSU trailed Mercer 27-13 heading to the locker room.
The second half started much better for the Bucs who used a 25-14 run to pull the game within three. The run was capitalized by the Mercer bench being called for a technical foul courtesy of head coach Bob Hoffman. The Bucs appeared to be in position to capitalize, but Mercer stood its ground with a 7-0 run to stretch the lead back to double digits.
The Bucs tried but could not put together another run. Each time ETSU would cut the lead back to single digits, the Bears would respond and extend their lead.
Season-long trends of issues with size and depth continued to haunt ETSU as Mercer played 13 people, 10 of those contributing substantial minutes. ETSU on the other hand played eight men with seven of those giving the Bucs considerable minutes. The Bears reserves out-scored ETSU’s bench 19-3. Take away bench scoring and the final score would have been 52-51 Mercer.
Red-shirt senior Jarvis Jones led all scorers with 18 points on 5-15 shooting, 3-10 from beyond the arc. Junior Hunter Harris led ETSU at the charity stripe, knocking down 9 of 13 attempts. Collectively the Bucs shot just 32.6 percent from the floor and 60 percent on free throws.
The Bucs clinched a berth in the Atlantic Sun General Shale Conference Tournament over the weekend as a result of USC Upstate defeating Kennesaw State.