Walton, Jones lead Bucs past Kennesaw
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 00:02
After a thrilling comeback victory on the road against Stetson, the ETSU Bucs returned home looking to build a streak late in the season.
The Bucs trailed Stetson by 20 points with 12 minutes on the clock and rallied back to win the game 62-61, keeping them within reach of postseason play. ETSU faced off against the Kennesaw State Owls at home, looking to stay perfect against the Owls this year, and extending the win-streak against Kennesaw to 15 straight victories.
“I try to let the game come to me and tonight it did,” said John Walton, an ETSU sophomore forward. “My teammates found me when I was open and I scored when they did.”
The Bucs took an early 5-0 lead over the Owls. After the slow Kennesaw start, mistakes by the Bucs let the Owls tie the game. As the half progressed, the teams traded points, with ETSU gaining a slight edge until red-shirt senior Jarvis Jones was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. Jones converted the four-point play to start a scoring frenzy by the Bucs that resulted in a 24-9 lead with 11:49 left in the half.
ETSU backed up the strong offense with a dominant defensive effort. At the halfway mark of the first half, the red-hot Bucs cooled down, letting the Owls cut a 17 point lead back to 10 with under eight minutes to play in the half. Kennesaw continued to claw their way back into the game, cutting the lead to eight with under a minute to play. The Bucs finished the half scoring the final points of the period giving ETSU a 10-point lead heading into the locker room, 41-31 Bucs.
Both teams came out in the second half trading points, andthe Owls cut the lead back to single digits, 47-38 ETSU. Kennesaw continued to slowly dig into the Bucs lead point by point, trailing only by six, 51-45 with just over 12 minutes left in the game.
ETSU finally woke from a second-half stupor when a 3-pointer by sophomore Rashawn Rembert gave the Bucs a double-digit lead, 59-47 with under 10 minutes to play. ETSU continued to rebuild the lead and with some help from the Kennesaw State bench as head coach Lewis Preston received a technical foul for language.
The Bucs looked to finish strong against the Owls, but Kennesaw was not to be counted out, bringing the lead back to single digits with under two minutes to play in the game. ETSU fought till the end to beat the Owls 79-70 and extend the win streak against the Owls to 15 straight victories.
“We did not think this would be an easy win for us,” said head coach Murry Bartow. “This is our first Division I game here at home that we won from start to finish.”
The win marks the first Thursday victory for the Bucs this season as well as the first back-to-back wins.
Walton, who had 23 points, set a career high. He was shooting an impressive 100 percent from both the floor and the free-throw stripe until he missed his final shot. He finished 8-9 from the floor and 7-7 from the charity stripe. Also getting in on the action were red-shirt senior Jarvis Jones with 22 points and Rembert with 18 points on the night. The Bucs now look to finish the weekend strong with a victory over Mercer.
“It feels extremely good, we hadn’t won a Thursday game all year and it was our goal this week,” said Rembert. “We knew that Kennesaw would be a tough opponent.”