KENNESAW, Ga. — The East Tennessee State basketball team got a glimpse into the future on Saturday, and it liked what it saw.
Freshman Rashawn Rembert made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points as the Bucs got past Kennesaw State 64-59 at the KSU Convocation Center to break a three-game Atlantic Sun Conference losing streak.
“Everyone told me to stay patient, that my time will come,” said Rembert, a 6-foot-4 guard from Tampa, Fla. “I was just ready to play when they needed me.”
Rembert’s performance — he had scored 14 points all season — was the spark the Bucs needed to go along with big games from the team’s seniors. An injured Tommy Hubbard made five big plays in the final 2:37, while Adam Sollazzo scored a team-high 19 points and Isiah Brown had 14.
The Bucs survived Kennesaw State’s 11-for-19 shooting performance from 3-point range to improve to 12-10 overall, 6-5 in the A-Sun. The Owls fell to 3-21, 0-12 with their 12th straight loss.
Rembert swished his first shot, a 3-pointer from the left corner with a minute left in the first half. He then made another one to open the second half and tipped in a miss on ETSU’s next possession. His eight points in a row for the Bucs were followed by eight in a row from Sollazzo.
“He really was the difference in the game for us,” said ETSU coach Murry Bartow, who has been reluctant to play any of the freshmen. “We don’t win this game unless he makes the plays he makes.”
Rembert wasn’t finished. His third 3-pointer came with 10:30 left and gave the Bucs a 44-42 lead. He wound up going 4 for 4 and was the only ETSU player to make a 3-point shot.
“I remember sitting at a restaurant before the season started and I said, ‘Stay with me, Rashawn. You will win us a game,’ “ Sollazzo said. “And he did that tonight.”
Hubbard was playing with a turf-toe injury in the big toe on his left foot. He was a game-time decision yet played 35 minutes. And the Bucs probably would not have won without his efforts.
Hubbard’s heroics began with 2:37 left when he scored his first points of the day while being fouled. The free throw tied the game at 57. ETSU then tipped the ball toward the sideline and Hubbard saved it as he sprawled across the press table.
The Bucs took that possession and took the lead for good on Jarvis Jones’ free throw with 1:02 left. When Jones missed the second attempt, Hubbard got the offensive rebound.
The Bucs tried an alley oop, but the ball was tipped away before Brown could corral it. Hubbard got the rebound to keep possession. Then as the shot clock was expiring, the Bucs missed a shot and Hubbard tipped it in as the clock hit zero. That gave ETSU a 60-57 lead with 23 seconds left.
“I’m sure he’s hurting right now, and the probability is he won’t practice tomorrow,” Bartow said. “It was just pure Tommy Hubbard. He’s tough and he makes plays.”
Hubbard finished with five crucial points and eight rebounds.
“It was killing me,” Hubbard said. “But it’s crunch time. You got to make plays. When things are not working, you have to bear down and try to make plays, and I tried to do that as much as possible.”
The Owls had a chance to get back in the game in the closing seconds, but they showed why they haven’t won an A-Sun game, missing three free throws in the span of 1.1 seconds.
ETSU sealed the deal when Jones and Sollazzo each made two free throws in the final 10 seconds.
The Bucs got a break when Kennesaw’s Delbert Love was called for his third foul with 3:23 left in the first half. Love tried to block a shot by ETSU’s Lukas Poderis and was whistled for the hack.
Love sat out more than nine minutes, continuing into the second half, before he returned. He lasted 26 seconds before he got his fourth.
Love’s long-range shooting performance keyed a 7-for-13 half by the Owls, who led 30-24 at halftime. The second half started much the same with Spencer Dixon swishing a 3-pointer eight seconds in.
ETSU’s largest lead was 48-42. The Owls led by 11 in the first half.
ETSU outrebounded the Owls 26-18 in a game where both teams shot lights out. The Bucs made 51 percent of their field goal attempts while Kennesaw State shot 57 percent.
Love led Kennesaw State with 19 points. He never even attempted another 3-pointer after getting his third foul. Dixon added 14 and Brandon Dawson had 12.
Markeith Cummings, one of the top scorers in the A-Sun, was held to five points and committed six turnovers.
ETSU, which leads the nation in steals, had 12 more.
The Bucs continue their Georgia road trip with a game at Mercer on Monday night.