Second-half surge carries Bucs past Mercer
Published 12:12 am Thursday, January 20, 2022
CONTRIBUTED BY ETSU ATHLETICS
JOHNSON CITY – The ETSU men’s basketball team got hot at just the right time.
Down by three with less than five minutes to play, the Buccaneers made their last six shots, which included a closing 15-4 surge, to rally past Mercer, 72-64, on Wednesday night inside Freedom Hall.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Trailing by four at the half and by as many as seven early in the second, ETSU shot 55 percent in the final 20 minutes (16-29) to finish with a 47 percent clip (28-60) on the night. The Blue and Gold hit double-digit threes for the 10th time this season – shooting 44 percent from long distance (10-23).
After allowing Mercer to hit 54 percent of its shots in the first half, ETSU locked in defensively and held the visitors from Macon, Ga. to 36 percent in the second (10-28), as the Bears finished at 44 percent for the contest (23-52). The Bears were 7-of-25 from three-point range (28%), marking the ninth time this season ETSU has held the opposition below 30 percent.
ETSU’s starters accounted for 69 points, while the Bucs scored 14 on 13 Mercer turnovers and finished plus-11 in fast break scoring, 17-6 – eight of which came in that late blitzkrieg.
In a game that featured four ties and nine lead changes, the Bears led for just over 29 minutes, while the Bucs led for the final 2:18, thanks to that closing run.
With the win, ETSU improved to 12-8 overall and 4-3 in league play, while Mercer – who entered the night tied for the lead atop the SoCon standings – dipped to 11-8, 4-2.
David Sloan (Louisville, Ky.) continued his stellar play as he scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting (3-4 from three) and dished out seven of ETSU’s 12 assists.
Ledarrius Brewer (Meridian, Miss.) netted 18 points, knocking down back-to-back threes, giving the Bucs the lead for good at 63-60 with 2:18 remaining. Brewer also grabbed four rebounds and dished out a pair of assists.
Both Brewer and Sloan scored 13 second-half points, accounting for 59 percent of the Bucs’ scoring in the final 20 minutes. Sloan’s 13-point outburst came during an 8-minute, 40-second stretch where he was the only Buccaneer to score points. His first bucket cut the deficit to one (45-44) and the final one tied it at 54 with 5:09 remaining.
Ty Brewer (Meridian, Miss.) tallied nine of his 14 points in the second half, while grabbing six rebounds and collecting two steals, and Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) finished with 12 points.
Mohab Yasser (Giza, Egypt) tied for the team lead in rebounds with six, including three on the offensive end.
Mercer was led by Felipe Haase and James Glisson III as they each scored 17 points.
The first half was controlled by Mercer as they led for 16 minutes with ETSU’s advantage coming at 17-16 following a Sloan jumper with 9:05 left in the frame. From there, the Bears scored 12 of the next 16 points to go ahead by seven, 28-21, with just under five minutes remaining before intermission. ETSU clipped the deficit to two in the closing seconds but Mercer took a four-point lead into the locker room, 32-28.
Mercer started the second half extending its lead to seven and led 42-36 following a Felipe Haase lay-up with 14:09 left in the contest.
The Bucs then mounted their first run – a 13-3 surge over a 5-plus minute stretch – to take a 49-45 lead with 9:09 showing the clock.
Sloan’s hot hand kept ETSU in the contest, and then trailing by three with 4:51 remaining, the Bucs didn’t miss and the comeback began.
After scoring 13 straight points for the Blue and Gold, Sloan assisted on Ledarrius Brewer’s back-to-back threes, putting ETSU ahead, 63-60 with 2:18 left. The lead continued to grow when Ty Brewer took the ball away from Jordan Jones on the ensuing possession, resulting in a powerful dunk, bringing the over 3,200 Buccaneer faithful to their feet.
Mercer never responded and Jaden Seymour (Charlotte, N.C.) provided the exclamation mark when he drove from mid-court straight to the rim for a dunk of his own, making it 69-62 with just under a minute remaining. In total, the Bucs’ 15-4 closing run solidified the key win to kick off the homestand.
ETSU takes on The Citadel on 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.