COOKEVILLE – The date wasn’t worth the wait for the East Tennessee State basketball team.
Tennessee Tech pounded the Bucs in the paint and beat them for the third straight year, 98-83, Wednesday at Eblen Center. The game was supposed to be played Tuesday night, but had to be postponed shortly before the scheduled tipoff because no officials were assigned.
The Eagles (4-4) got a career-high 27 points and eight rebounds from junior forward Dennis Ogbe, and they held a commanding 45-26 edge on the boards. It was 17-5 on the offensive end.
“That was the difference in the game; they just killed us on the glass,” said ETSU coach Murry Bartow. “We scored 83 and shot 51 percent, but we couldn’t handle their rebounding.”
The Bucs (2-5) had won their last two games at Freedom Hall, and they’ll return there to host Marshall on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles never trailed, though it was a tightly contested first half. They dominated points in the paint 30-8 and led by six at halftime, with Ogbe, the 6-6, 220-pound German, scoring 17 to double his season average.
The Eagles then raced away with 53 points in the second half in front of an afternoon crowd of 702.
The Bucs had not allowed more than 80 points in a game this season, and their worst previous loss was 10 points. They just couldn’t slow down their old rival from the Ohio Valley Conference.
“To get runs, you gotta get stops,” said Bartow. “We had some decent individual efforts, but at the other end as a team we just didn’t defend like we needed to.
“Tennessee Tech has good offensive firepower and rebounders. Their two big kids obviously hurt us.”
Center Dwan Caldwell had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Golden Eagles. Ladon Carter added 13 points and Ty Allen 11.
The Bucs also had four players score in double figures, led by Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard with 20. Rashawn Rembert followed with 14, A.J. Merriweather had 13 and Hunter Harris 12.
Gadsden-Gilliard, Harris and Merriweather all picked up their fourth fouls early in the second half, and Merriweather finally fouled out in the closing minute.
Rembert extended his streak of games with a 3-pointer to 36 when he banked one home in the closing minute. He had missed his first five attempts.
Meanwhile, Ron Giplaye made his long-awaited debut for the Bucs when he came off the bench late in the first half. The junior forward sat out last season after transferring from Providence, and he underwent surgery in August for a congenital heart condition.
Giplaye played just two minutes without a point or rebound. He missed his only shot.
Free throws played a big part throughout the contest in which 54 personal fouls were called. The Bucs were 26 of 39 at the line, while the Golden Eagles were 32 of 40.
The series, which began in 1929, now stands at 35 wins apiece.