Bucs fall in final minute to Jacksonville State, 63-61

Published 10:27 am Monday, December 5, 2022

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JOHNSON CITY – Despite leading by seven midway through the second half, the ETSU men’s basketball team couldn’t hold on as Jacksonville State hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 59 seconds remaining and the Buccaneers suffered a 63-61 setback to the Gamecocks on Saturday evening inside Freedom Hall.
After pulling within one on a Justice Smith (Lyons, N.Y.) baseline jumper with 43 seconds to go, the Bucs forced a turnover on a steal by Smith, but he stepped out of bounds with 19 seconds showing on the clock, forcing the Blue and Gold to come up empty. ETSU was forced to foul and Jacksonville State’s Skyelar Potter made one of two free throws, giving the Blue and Gold another opportunity. Unfortunately, Jaden Seymour’s (Charlotte, N.C.) open three-point look from the left wing couldn’t fall and Jacksonville State walked away with the two-point non-conference victory.
With ETSU and Jacksonville State meeting for the first time on the hardwood, the Bucs dipped to 4-5 on the season, while the Gamecocks improved to 4-4.
The Bucs made six more field goals in the contest on 14 more attempts, but Jacksonville State held the upper hand in three-point and free throw shooting. ETSU finished 25-of-58 (43%) from the field, compared to the Gamecocks going 19-for-44 (43%).
From beyond the arc, Jacksonville State went 12-of-26 (46%), while the Bucs were 8-of-26 (31%).
At the free throw line, the Gamecocks were 13-for-15 and ETSU was 3-of-5.
The Blue and Gold won the battle of the boards by four, 32-28, but Jacksonville State turned five offensive rebounds in to nine second-chance points, while ETSU only scored six points off 10 second-chance efforts.
ETSU did a better job limiting its turnovers as they finished with 12 and assisted on 15 of its 25 made field goals.
The Bucs tied a season-high with 11 steals and scored 14 points off 14 JSU miscues.
For the second time in three games, ETSU was without the services of its two key bench players in DeAnthony Tipler (Ashland, Miss.) and Brock Jancek (Knoxville, Tenn.). Both Buccaneers were out with injuries.
Prior to the game, ETSU honored Tim Smith by retiring his jersey. Smith, ETSU’s all-time leading scorer with 2,300 points, was named 2006 ASUN Player of the Year and 2003 SoCon Freshman of the Year. Smith led the Bucs to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003 and 2004, while he was a four-time all-tournament team selection and three-time first team all-conference honoree.
Justice Smith came off the bench to score a team-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting (2-2 from three). The Buccaneer transfer also added seven rebounds and four steals.
Josh Taylor (Atlanta) and Jalen Haynes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) each netted 10 points, while Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) – who suffered a blow to the face in the opening minutes of the contest – totaled 12 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals.
Jacksonville State was led by Potter’s’ 27-point, 6-rebound performance.
First Half
The first half was nip-and-tuck as neither team led by more than six points as there were three ties and two lead changes in the opening 20 minutes with the visitors leading 31-28 at the break.
The Gamecocks scored the first five points, but ETSU answered with a 14-3 run to go up by six (14-8) when Seymour found Smith for a turnaround jumper at the 10:52 mark. Then, with the Bucs ahead 17-13, Jacksonville State used an 11-2 spurt to regain a 24-19 advantage with less than four minutes before halftime. ETSU was able to tie the game at 28 in the final minute before Potter connected on a triple with 33 ticks left to take a three-point lead into the locker room.
Second Half
The Buccaneer defense held Jacksonville State without a field goal for over eight minutes in the second half and ETSU built a 49-42 lead with 10:31 remaining in the contest.
The Gamecocks, who netted seven points at the free throw line during that drought, stopped the bleeding when Potter hit a three-pointer to pull within four (49-45) with just under 10 minutes remaining.
ETSU was able to go back up six on two different possessions, but with the Bucs ahead 57-51, Jacksonville State got back-to-back threes from Amanze Ngumezi to pull even at 57 with 4:34 showing on the clock. The teams then traded buckets to remained tied at 59 – and after a scoreless stretch of two minutes and 19 seconds – the Gamecocks broke the tie and led for good on Potters triple with 59 ticks left, 62-59.
Smith cut the deficit to one on his baseline jumper and then forced the steal with 32 seconds remaining; however, he stepped out of bounds 13 seconds later, giving the ball back to JSU. Following Potter making the first and missing the second free throw, ETSU had a look at the game-winning three, but Seymour’s attempt did not fall as the buzzer sounded.
ETSU will take the week off for final exams and return to action on Sunday, Dec. 11 when the Bucs travel to Kentucky and take on Morehead State. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
For more information on Buccaneer men’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball page.

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