ETSU holds off VMI to secure win in SoCon home opener
Published 1:09 pm Thursday, January 6, 2022
CONTRIBUTED BY ETSU ATHLETICS
JOHNSON CITY – Ledarrius Brewer (Meridian, Miss.) provided the spark early and David Sloan (Louisville, Ky.) finished with the late-game heroics, as ETSU men’s basketball held off VMI 80-79 in Wednesday’s Southern Conference home opener inside Freedom Hall.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
ETSU continued its win streak over the Keydets as the Bucs have now won 13 straight in the series en route to moving its season record to 9-6 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
Since rejoining the SoCon in 2014-15, ETSU has won all eight of its conference home openers, while the Bucs moved to 41-9 in the month of January since the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
Both teams combined for 80 three-point attempts with the Bucs holding the slight advantage in makes, 13 to 12. VMI, who came in averaging 12.8 made threes on 34 attempts, shot 29 percent from long distance inside Freedom Hall. ETSU finished 13-of-38 from three-point range (34%).
Overall, the Bucs shot 38 percent from the field (29-77) and VMI ended with a 45 percent clip (30-67). ETSU was plus-two in made free throws, 9 to 7.
The Blue and Gold dominated the boards, outrebounding the Keydets by eight, 50-42, including a plus-10 margin on the offensive glass, 21-11.
ETSU finished plus-12 in points off turnovers, 16-4, and the Buccaneer bench was plus-7, 15-8.
The Bucs led for nearly 36 minutes as they were up by as many as 19 first-half points, before VMI outscored ETSU by 16 in the second, 49-33.
VMI suffered its first conference setback of the season as the Keydets moved to 9-6 overall and 2-1 in SoCon play.
Ledarrius Brewer scored all 19 of his points in the first half, while he also tallied eight rebounds and dished out four assists in 35 minutes. Brewer knocked down four of the Bucs’ 13 made threes.
On the flip side, David Sloan scored 14 of his team-high 20 in the second half, including nine of ETSU’s last 14 points down the stretch. The Buccaneer point guard was 6-of-7 at the free throw line and ended with five assists.
Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) also scored in double figures as he netted 13, grabbed six rebounds, posted two assists and swiped two steals.
Ty Brewer (Meridian, Miss.) led the Bucs with 13 rebounds – one shy of tying a career high – and scored four points.
Mohab Yasser (Giza, Egypt) accounted for eight of the 15 bench points, while freshman Matt Nunez (Newport News, Va.) made his collegiate debut. Nunez scored his first points on an offensive rebound, giving the Bucs a 59-50 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
VMI was led by Jake Stephens as the reigning SoCon Player of the Week finished with 29 points and 15 rebounds.
VMI opened the game scoring the first five points, but the Bucs came alive with a 17-3 run over the next three-plus minutes to go ahead 17-8 following a fastbreak three by Ledarrius Brewer at the 14:07 mark.
Two minutes later Brewer netted another triple to push ETSU’s lead into double digits, 20-10, but the Keydets responded. VMI scored 12 of the next 18 points to pull within four, but the Bucs closed the final six minutes and thirty-three seconds on a 21-8 surge to take a 47-30 lead into the break.
The Keydets were held to 4-of-23 shooting from beyond the arc, while ETSU was 8-of-22. Brewer led all players with his 19 points and King added 10 in the opening 20 minutes. The Bucs also outscored VMI 12-0 in points off turnovers in the opening half.
In the second half, ETSU’s lead hovered around double figures for the first eight and a half minutes, but with the Bucs up 61-50, VMI threw another run at the Blue and Gold.
The Keydets used a 13-2 run to pull even at 63 with just under eight and a half minutes left in the contest.
Following the VMI three to tie things up for the second time of the night, ETSU answered when Sloan hit Yasser for a triple, putting the Bucs back ahead, 66-63 with 8:04 showing on the clock.
ETSU never trailed after that bucket and the Bucs eventually pushed their lead to seven when Vonnie Patterson (Louisville, Ky.) found King open beyond the arc, giving the Blue and Gold a 76-69 advantage with 3:20 left to play.
The Keydets then scored the next five points to get back within two, and had the ball for a chance to take the lead on two different possessions, but came up empty on back-to-back three-point attempts.
Sloan then took over as he drove for a lay-up to push the lead to four with under a minute to play and then knocked down a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to solidify the conference win.
ETSU continues its homestand on Saturday afternoon when the Bucs host Wofford 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.