Bucs get revenge; ETSU edges UNCG in regular season finale

Published 9:48 am Monday, February 27, 2023

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ETSU earns No. 5 seed in SoCon Tournament; Bucs spoil Spartans bid for conference crown

JOHNSON CITY – How sweet it is!
After losing by 26 points earlier this month to UNCG in Greensboro, the ETSU men’s basketball team wanted another shot at the Spartans.
The Buccaneers got that opportunity in Saturday’s regular season finale and ETSU came up big.
Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.) scored a game-high 25 points and Jaden Seymour (Charlotte, N.C.) added 17 points and seven rebounds, and ETSU was able to exhale when Kobe Langley’s three-point shot at the buzzer was off the mark, securing the Bucs a 63-62 victory over the Spartans in front of 3,652 fans inside Freedom Hall.
The win locked ETSU into the No. 5 seed in next week’s Southern Conference Tournament, while UNCG’s hopes for sharing the conference crown crumbled following the defeat. The Bucs will now take on No. 4 Western Carolina in Saturday’s quarterfinal at 2:30 p.m. inside Harrah’s Cherokee Center. The Spartans will be the No. 3 seed and take on either Chattanooga over Wofford.

– The Bucs ended the season with back-to-back wins as ETSU improved to 12-19 overall and 8-10 in SoCon play. For the second straight year, the Blue and Gold ended the regular season with wins over The Citadel and UNCG. The Spartans dropped to 20-11 overall and 14-4 in league play.
– ETSU was outdone in both field goals made and three-pointers made, but the difference came at the free throw line. The Bucs were 15-of-22 at the stripe, while UNCG went 6-for-11 and Buccaneer fans went home with free Chick-fil-a for the second time this season thanks to Bas Leyte missing consecutive free throws with 10:50 remaining in the first half.
– For the game, ETSU shot 40 percent from the floor (20-50) and three-point range (8-20), while the Spartans finished with a 42 percent clip from the field (23-55) and 37 percent mark from long distance (10-27).
– A handful of specialty stats were nearly identical as both teams scored 13 points off turnovers, 22 points in the paint and UNCG was plus-1 in second-chance points, 9-8. The Spartans were also plus-6 in fast-break points, 12-6 and plus 16 in bench scoring 24-8.
– Both teams also blocked four shots, while ETSU had one less turnover (12-13) and one fewer assist (9-10).
– UNCG was plus-2 on the glass, 35-33, and plus-1 in offensive rebounds, 11-10.
– ETSU now leads the all-time series, 21-19, while only 17 points separate the total score in the series – ETSU with 2,911 points to UNCG’s 2,894
– The Bucs used their ninth different starting lineup of the season on Saturday as Jalen Haynes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) came off the bench for the first time this year.

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– King, who totaled his ninth 20-point scoring game of the season, finished 5-of-10 from beyond the arc and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. The Albany, N.Y. native knocked down the biggest shot of the night when his step-back three from the top of the arc made 63-59 with 25.9 seconds remaining.
– For the third straight game, Seymour bested his career high by another point as he ended with 17. Seymour was 4-of-6 from the floor and netted a career-high nine free throws.
– Haynes and Justice Smith (Lyons, N.Y.) each finished with eight points. Smith grabbed six rebounds and had two steals, and Haynes recorded five boards and a pair of steals.
– Josh Taylor (Atlanta), playing his second game in a cast, blocked three shots, grabbed two rebounds and posted two steals.
– UNCG was led by Leyte and Keshaun Langley as they each scored 12 points.

The game featured five ties and nine lead changes and neither team led by more than 10 points.
In the first half, UNCG led by as many as six, while the Bucs were up eight 24-16 following a fast-break driving lay-up by Smith with 8:04 remaining. The Spartans quickly responded by scoring the next nine points to go up one with just over five minutes to go in the half, but the Bucs answered with a 7-0 spurt and eventually took a 33-29 lead into the locker room.
The Bucs got balanced scoring in the first half as King, Seymour and Smith all had eight points, while ETSU knocked down five triples in the opening 20 minutes.
The start of the second half was tight as the lead changed hands four times in the opening four minutes, but with the game tied at 39, ETSU used a 14-4 run to open a 10-point lead, 53-43, following a pair of free throws by King with 7:58 remaining in the contest.
However, the Spartans had one final run left in them as the Bucs led by eight with just over three minutes to play, and UNCG scored seven straight points over the next two-plus minutes to pull within one, 60-59.
King stopped the UNCG run as he stepped up with the clutch three-pointer, knocking one home with less than 26 ticks remaining, extending ETSU’s lead to four, 63-59. Despite holding the advantage in the closing seconds, things were still uneasy for the Buccaneer faithful.
The Spartans came down and took advantage of the second-chance opportunity as Keondre Kennedy missed a three, grabbed an offensive rebound and connected from the left wing, making it 63-62 with 12 seconds showing on the clock.
Following a full timeout by UNCG, ETSU inbounded the ball to King, who tried to split a double team but was called for a travel. The Spartans then had one final look with under 10 seconds to play, but Keyshaun Langley got inside the paint and dished it out to his brother in the corner who had an open look but he missed it as time expired and the Buccaneers held on for the win.

ETSU heads to the SoCon Tournament as the fifth-seeded Bucs take on No. 4 Western Carolina Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. inside Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville.