ETSU downs Kent State to claim inaugural Naples Invitational Championship… Sloan named Tournament MVP, Ledarrius Brewer earns all-tournament team honors
Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 25, 2021
CONTRIBUTED BY ETSU ATHLETICS
NAPLES, Fla. – From Murray State to Missouri State to Kent State.
The ETSU men’s basketball team completed the all “State” trifecta en route to capturing the inaugural Naples Invitational Championship as the Buccaneers defeated Kent State 57-51 in Wednesday’s title game from the Moe Kent Family Fieldhouse.
The Bucs saw a 19-point second half lead cut to two in the final minute, but Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) stepped up with a clutch jumper with 45 seconds remaining and Charlie Weber (Owings, Md.) sealed it with a pair of free throws to give the Blue and Gold the tournament hardware.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
For the fifth time since 2016-17, the Bucs won a preseason tournament as this trophy will join the 2016 Sanford Pentagon Showcase, 2018 Sun Bowl Classic, 2018 Cayman Island Classic Mainland and 2019 Maui Invitational Mainland.
ETSU, who won three games in three days to win the crown, extended its win streak to four straight and improved to 4-2 on the season.
After playing a tightly contested game in Tuesday’s semifinal, the Bucs led for nearly 38 minutes and never trailed during the contest. The game was tied at 0-0 and 2-2 before ETSU scored the next seven points to take a 9-2 advantage and never looked back.
The game was a defensive battle where both teams forced 16 turnovers and shot below 40 percent. The Bucs finished 38 percent from the field (20-53) and 25 percent from beyond the arc (6-24), while Kent State posted a 40 percent clip (21-52) and a 17 percent mark from three-point range (4-23).
ETSU got it done at the charity stripe where they went 11-of-15, compared to the Golden Flashes going 5-of-7.
The Blue and Gold won the battle on the boards, 38-28, and turned 14 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points.
Wednesday marked the Bucs’ first ever game versus Kent State, while ETSU improved to 7-1 all-time against current Mid-American Conference opponents.
Kent State, who defeated James Madison and George Washington to get to the title game, dropped to 3-2 on the campaign.
David Sloan (Louisville, Ky.) took home tournament MVP honors as he finished with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals on Wednesday. For the tournament, Sloan – who hit the game-winner Tuesday night against Missouri State – averaged 14.3 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds, while shooting 57 percent (17-30) over the three games in Naples.
Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) led the Bucs with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting (2-for-3 from three), while Ledarrius Brewer (Meridian, Miss.) earned all-tournament team honors after averaging 12.7 points and four rebounds.
Ty Brewer (Meridian, Miss.) battled through a lower body injury early in the contest to tally eight points and seven rebounds, and Silas Adheke (Lagos, Nigeria) added seven points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes.
Charlie Weber was a perfect 5-of-5 at the free throw line to finish with seven points and pulled down four rebounds.
Kent State was led by Sincere Carry’s 21-point effort and Malique Jacobs finished with a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds).
The Bucs never trailed as they opened the game on a 9-2 run and pushed their lead to 13, 19-6, when King sank a triple with 10:51 remaining in the first half. ETSU’s lead hovered around double digits for the next five minutes and took a 29-20 lead into the break.
Sloan and Ledarrius Brewer led the Bucs with seven points each in the opening 20 minutes, while the Bucs’ defense held Kent State to 1-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc.
ETSU sprinted out of the gates to start the second half as they mounted a 14-4 run to see its load soar to 19, thanks to a Sloan jumper at the 14:44 mark, making it 43-24. The Bucs weren’t able to push the margin to 20 and the Golden Flashes fought back.
With the Bucs leading 48-37 with just under nine minutes to play, ETSU was held scoreless for over five minutes and Kent State cut the deficit to four, 48-44. Weber finally stopped the bleeding with a jumper in the paint and converted the old-fashioned three-point-play at the 3:11 mark, making it 51-44. Kent State made one last charge as they pulled within two with just over a minute remaining, but King and Weber stepped up in the final seconds to secure the tournament championship.
ETSU now heads home to take on Lees-McRae Saturday evening at 4 p.m. inside Freedom Hall.
For more information on ETSU men’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball tab.