Bucs show fight, fall to league-leading Samford
Published 11:37 pm Thursday, January 19, 2023
JOHNSON CITY – Jalen Haynes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while ETSU fought back from a 12-point second-half deficit, but ran out of gas as the Buccaneers fell to Samford 69-59 on Wednesday night inside Freedom Hall.
The Blue and Gold pulled within four with less than three minutes to play, but a turnover at mid-court led to a fast-break layup by A.J. Staton-McCray. McCray was fouled on the play and converted the three-point-play as league-leading Samford held on for the road win.
With the loss, ETSU – who has dropped seven straight at home – dipped to 7-13 overall and 3-4 in league play. Samford remained perfect in SoCon action as they improved to 13-7, 7-0.
Both teams were nearly identical from the field as the Bucs finished 24-for-55 (44%) and 5-of-18 (28%) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were 24-for-54 (44%) from the floor and 6-of-19 (32%) from long distance. Samford made seven extra trips to the free throw line as they made 15 of its 20 attempts, compared to ETSU going 6-of-13.
The Bucs were out-rebounded for just the fifth time this season as Samford finished plus-7, 38 to 31, while ETSU was outscored in second-chance points, 10-2. The Blue and Gold only turned the ball over eight times, but Samford still managed to score 11 points off the miscues.
Joining Haynes in double figures was Justice Smith (Lyons, N.Y.) as he finished with 11 points.
The Bucs, without two of their top five scorers, jumped out to a seven-point lead early as Allen Strothers (Newport News, Va.) found Jamarius Hairston (Salisbury, N.C.) open for a three-pointer, making it 18-11 at 12:51 mark of the first half.
ETSU was unable to push its lead into double figures and Samford rattled off the next seven points to pull even at 18 with just over 11 minutes left before halftime. The Bucs regained the lead and went ahead by four (30-26) following a lay-up by Braden Ilic (Morristown, Tenn.), but the Bulldogs hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half and took a 35-33 lead into the locker room.
Jermaine Marshall, who hit the triple at the end of the first half, carried momentum into the second as he netted a three-pointer on Samford’s opening possession and made a jumper on its next trip down the floor, pushing the advantage to seven, 40-33, with less than one minute into the stanza.
From there, the Bulldogs took their largest lead of the night at 47-35 with just over 15 minutes remaining, but ETSU didn’t back down.
The Blue and Gold chipped away at the deficit and scored 12 of the next 16 points to get within four, thanks to Brock Jancek (Knoxville, Tenn.) hitting a baseline jumper, making it 51-47 with 11:05 left in the contest.
ETSU kept fighting and made it a two-point game after Marshall traveled, and again, Jancek scored a lay-up and the scoreboard read, 55-53 at the 7:20 mark. The Bucs could never get over the hump as Samford answered each run and the Bulldogs closed the final two minutes on a 6-0 run to secure the win.
Logan Dye led the Bulldogs with 19 points, while Marshall added 17 points and 12 rebounds.
ETSU heads to Chattanooga to take on the reigning SoCon champion Mocs on Saturday at 3 p.m.
For more information on Buccaneer men’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball tab.