Photo courtesy Brittney Sparn/Clarksville Leaf Chronicle
CLARKSVILLE — A.J. Merriweather and Jalen Riley played their best games yet for East Tennessee State, and Rashawn Rembert closed the deal.
Rembert scored 13 of his 18 points in the last six minutes as the Bucs held off Austin Peay 80-74 for their first road victory of the season Wednesday night at the Dunn Center.
"I was having a tough time finding my rhythm," said Rembert, the junior wing. "Coach told me to just settle down and it would come to me. I was glad to see the shots fall when it counted."
Merriweather and Riley also had 18 points apiece as the Bucs (4-5) won for the fourth time in five games. Those were season highs for both.
Merriweather, the freshman from Jackson, hit 8 of 11 shots and also grabbed 11 rebounds. The Bucs broke 80 points for the fourth time this season.
"Any any given night, anybody on our team can score," said Merriweather. "We just try to play team ball and see who's hot."
The Bucs were hot early and led 44-33 at the half. But the Governors (4-4) finally caught fire and reeled off 13 straight points to take a 54-50 lead with 12 minutes left.
It was back and forth from there. In the last 10 minutes there were 10 lead changes and four ties.
Rembert finally put the Bucs ahead for good with a fallaway jumper from the right elbow that made it 71-69 with 3:11 left. But the Governors wouldn't go away.
A 3-pointer by Travis Betran made it a 75-74 game with 1:18 on the clock.
Betran led all scorers with 20 points.
In the final minute, the Bucs got a couple of stops and did something they hadn't done all night --make throws. Rembert made a pair with 25 seconds left to push the lead to three, and Petey McClain followed with two more.
The Bucs were just 13 of 25 from the stripe for the night.
Down the stretch, it was Riley who played point guard and ran the offense. Touted as a perimeter shooter, the junior-college transfer showed he could get into the paint time after time.
"He has the ability to go by people," said ETSU coach Murry Bartow. "We just have to get him to score more efficiently. He scored 18 points but took 17 shots."
The Bucs were able to overcome some late foul trouble. Hunter Harris fouled out with 5:40 remaining, and Lukas Poderis picked up his fifth less than two minutes later.
ETSU shot 47 percent from the field and held a 41-33 edge on the boards.
"We have a few more guys who can score," said Bartow, whose team travels to Georgia Tech on Saturday. "We're preaching defending better and rebounding better. We think the points will come."
Ed Dyson scored 15 points for the Govs, and Chris Horton had 13 and nine rebounds. Horton, the OVC freshman of the year last season, got into foul trouble and was shut out in the second half.
ETSU now leads the all-time series 40-30. The teams will meet against Dec. 21 in Johnson City.