Early deficit too much for Bucs to overcome against Western Carolina

Published 9:12 am Monday, March 6, 2023

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Buccaneers fell behind early and could never recover.
Trailing by 16 points in the opening eight minutes, the ETSU men’s basketball team could only get within nine as the fifth-seeded Bucs suffered a 69-57 season-ending loss to the fourth-seeded Western Carolina Catamounts in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon inside Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville.
The Bucs, who ended the season with an overall record of 12-20, had their six-game win streak in SoCon quarterfinal games snapped. ETSU also suffered its first 20-loss season since 2012-13. Western Carolina improved to 18-14 and will now take on No. 1 Furman in Sunday’s semifinal at 4 p.m.
For the game, ETSU shot 36 percent (20-55) from the field and 24 percent from beyond the arc (5-21), while Western Carolina hit at a 50 percent clip (27-54) from the floor and 46 percent mark (10-22) from long distance. The Bucs went to the free throw line 19 times and connected on 12 attempts, compared to the Catamounts finishing 5-of-9.
Jalen Haynes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Jordan King (Albany, N.Y.), a pair of all-SoCon selections, accounted for 41 of ETSU’s points. Haynes netted 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, marking his fourth double-double of the year. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native was fouled 13 times and went 9-for-13 at the charity stripe. Haynes also dished out four of the Bucs’ eight assists. King tallied 18 points on three made triples as he finished the season with 498 points.
After the teams traded shots early, the Catamounts broke the game open with a 14-0 run where they hit four threes during the surge, making it a 20-4 score at the 11:56 mark of the first half. The Bucs were able to cut the deficit to nine, 31-22, following a jumper by Jaden Seymour (Charlotte, N.C.) with just under five minutes left before the break, but Western Carolina scored 10 of the final 14 points to go into halftime up 15, 41-26.
ETSU started the second half scoring the first five points to make it a 10-point game, but the Blue & Gold were unable to get any closer.
Trailing 45-35, the Bucs saw the deficit grow to 18 when a Catamount bucket it made it 61-43 with 7:59 left in the contest. ETSU got to within 10 one final time in the closing minutes but Western Carolina secured its fourth straight win over the Blue & Gold.
Four Catamounts scored in double figures with Tyzhaun Claude leading the pack with 15 points, while Vonterius Woolbright tallied 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

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