ETSU’s home struggles continue; Bucs fall to Mercer
Published 8:58 pm Sunday, January 15, 2023
JOHNSON CITY – Just when it looked like ETSU men’s basketball was back and at full strength, the Buccaneers faced another major setback.
Despite leading by eight in the first half, the Blue and Gold couldn’t keep momentum and saw Mercer rally for a 68-55 win on Saturday evening inside Freedom Hall.
Coming off their fifth straight Southern Conference road win on Wednesday, the Bucs were dealt a sixth straight home loss as ETSU dipped to 7-12 overall and 3-3 in league play. Meanwhile, Mercer got in the win column for the first time in SoCon play as the Bears moved to 8-11, 1-5.
The Bucs shot less than 40 percent for the game (19-49) and were 4-of-15 from the long distance. Turnovers again played a huge factor as the Bears scored 15 points off 17 Buccaneer miscues, while ETSU only scored two points off seven Mercer turnovers.
Justice Smith (Lyons, N.Y.) led all players with 17 points as he was 5-of-10 from the field (6-6 at the free throw line) and also pulled down six rebounds. As a team, ETSU was plus-7 on the glass, 35-28, and went 13-for-15 at the charity striple.
Following his historic 42-point effort Wednesday in Charleston, Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) finished with 13 points, while Jaden Seymour (Charlotte, N.C.) accounted for 11 of ETSU’s 17 bench points.
The air came out of Freedom Hall early on, as less than two minutes into the contest, ETSU junior forward Josh Taylor (Atlanta) was fouled going up for dunk and landed hard on his wrists. The foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 1 and Taylor was sidelined for the remainder of the game, resulting in the Blue and Gold being shorthanded yet again.
With 6:19 remaining in the first half, Taylor out and Brock Jancek (Knoxville, Tenn.) still not 100 percent, ETSU still led 22-14 after King scored a second-chance bucket with a jumper just outside the paint.
However, things went south for the Blue and Gold on their home floor.
Mercer closed the half on a 17-6 run and took a 31-28 lead into the locker room.
The Bucs cut the deficit to one in the opening minute of the second half, but ETSU never regained the lead.
ETSU was only down two following a King three-pointer at the 14:42 mark, but Mercer rattled off 15 of the next 21 points to go up 11, 54-43, with just over six minutes left to play. The Bears eventually led by 17 and left Johnson City with a 13-point win.
Mercer shot 44 percent (26-59) from the field and 47 percent (9-19) from long distance.
The Bears had four players score in double figures with Luis Hurtado leading the way at 14 points, while Jalyn McCreary – Mercer’s leading scorer – and Jah Quinones each added 12 points off the bench. Quinones also posted eight rebounds and dished out five of Mercer’s 10 assists.
ETSU wraps up its two-game homestand Wednesday night when the Bucs host league-leading Samford at 7 p.m. inside Freedom Hall.
For more information on Buccaneer men’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball tab.