ETSU opens SoCon play with road win at Wofford
Published 8:32 am Friday, December 30, 2022
Bucs hand Terriers first home loss of the season; King notches 1,000th career point
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Dec. 29, 2022) – A new season meant a new look for the Buccaneers.
After dropping its last five games by a combined 14 points, the ETSU men’s basketball team flipped the script in Thursday’s Southern Conference opener. Behind a 20-point performance by Justice Smith (Lyons, N.Y.) and Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) scoring his 1,000th career point, the Buccaneers got a final stop by Josh Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) in the final seconds, carrying ETSU to a 73-71 win at Wofford inside Richardson Indoor Stadium.
The Bucs, who led by as many as 10 points in the second half, saw the Terriers charge back to tie things up at 65; however, King stepped up with back-to-back threes – the final resulting in the milestone bucket – and the Blue and Gold never relinquished the lead. After Wofford got the ball back following a traveling call on King with four seconds left, Jackson Sivills was fed the rock in the paint but Taylor defended the play to perfection as the Buccaneer forward never let him get a shot off as time expired sending the Buccaneer faithful into a frenzy.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
ETSU snapped its five-game skid and improved to 5-9 and 1-0 in league play, while Wofford – coming off a win at Texas A&M last Tuesday – dipped to 8-6 and 0-1, along with suffering its first home loss of the season.
The Bucs, who are 19-16 in SoCon openers, have won 10 of their last 13 openers in SoCon play.
The Blue and Gold won for just the third time in its last 10 trips to Spartanburg.
ETSU used stellar second-half shooting to rally for the win as the Bucs shot 50 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes (15-30) and were 67 percent from beyond the arc (6-9). For the game, ETSU shot 46 percent (27-59) from the floor and was 10-of-20 from long distance.
The Blue and Gold tied a season-high with the 10 made threes, while shooting a season-best clip from beyond the arc.
Wofford, who entered the night shooting 48 percent as a team, was held to a 39 percent mark (24-62) and finished 5-of-31 from three-point range (16 percent).
The Terriers were 18-for-21 at the free throw line, compared to ETSU going 9-for-13.
The Buccaneer bench outscored Wofford, 29-11.
ETSU was plus-9 on the boards, 41-32, while grabbing 15 offensive rebounds.
The Bucs assisted on 16 of their 27 made field goals.
Justice Smith tied a season-high with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while also grabbing seven rebounds.
Jordan King entered the night needing 14 points to notch his 1,000th career point and finished right on the number. King, who has scored 652 points in 46 games as a Buccaneer and 348 in 47 games at Siena, was 5-of-11 from the field and 3-for-6 from three-point range. The Albany, N.Y. native also registered four rebounds and two assists in 33 minutes.
DeAnthony Tipler (Ashland, Miss.) came off the bench to net 12 points on four made threes, while Brock Jancek (Knoxville, Tenn.) was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field en route to finishing with nine points, three assists and two rebounds.
Jaden Seymour (Charlotte, N.C.) gave the Bucs six points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes off the bench.
Wofford was led by Messiah Jones and B.J. Mack as they each scored 17 points and combined for 14 rebounds.
Neither team got off to a hot start but both teams finished strong in the first half with the Bucs scoring the last six points to cut their deficit to three at the break, 34-31.
ETSU faced its largest deficit of the half at 34-25 with 1:16 left before intermission, but Smith and Tipler hit from long distance in the closing seconds to take momentum into the locker room.
Wofford jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the opening four minutes of the contest and the Blue and Gold scored six of the next eight points to pull even at 9-9 when Jalen Haynes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) made the first of two free throws with 11:58 remaining in the half.
From there, Wofford controlled the next 10-plus minutes as they scored five straight points and saw its lead grow to nine before ETSU hit back-to-back triples to find a spark going into halftime.
Both teams made 12 field goals in the opening 20 minutes, while ETSU was plus-3 from beyond the arc – going 4-of-11 compared to Wofford hitting one of its 17 attempts. The Terriers held the upper hand at the free throw line as they were 9-of-9 and the Bucs went 3-for-7. Smith and Jancek combined for 18 of ETSU’s 31 first-half points.
ETSU carried the momentum over into the second half as the Buccaneer run extended to 15-4, and the Blue and Gold regained a 40-38 lead when Allen Strothers (Newport News, Va.) drove in for a lay-up with 15:41 showing on the clock.
From there, the lead changed hands three times, but with the game tied at 44, ETSU used a 10-2 run to go up eight, 54-46. The surge ended with a massive block by Seymour that led to Strothers feeding an incredible pass to Jamarius Hairston (Salisbury, N.C.) for a fastbreak lay-up with 10:08 remaining.
One minute later, the Bucs’ lead grew to 10 when Seymour laid one in, making it a 59-49 score.
ETSU was unable to push the margin any further and Wofford – who missed 23 of its first 24 shots from beyond the arc – heated up from long range. The Terriers had a stretch where they netted three of four from downtown and eventually tied the game at 65 with just under five minutes remaining.
After playing in so many close battles in non-conference play, the Bucs learned from those outcomes and got over the hump. King ignited the closing run with the consecutive three-pointers to go up 71-65 at the 2:43 mark.
Wofford was able to clip the deficit to 73-70 when Jackson Paveletzke netted a three with 1:34 remaining and Corey Tripp made it a two-point deficit after he was fouled and made one of two free throws in the final minute.
The Bucs came up empty on their final possession and Wofford had the final opportunity to extend the game. The first look came on a Mack three-point attempt that was off the mark – and after King grabbed the rebound – he was whistled for a travel as he was falling to the floor, which gave the Terriers one final look. With four ticks showing on the clock, the Bucs didn’t allow Wofford to get a shot off and ETSU held on for the win.
ETSU closes out 2022 at VMI on Saturday with a 1 p.m. tip-off inside Cameron Hall.
For more information on Buccaneer men’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball page.