East Tennessee State rallied from behind for the second night in a row, erasing an 18-point first-half deficit to beat Sam Houston State 77-63 in a non-conference college basketball game at Freedom Hall. The game was part of the Cayman Islands Classic.
Tray Boyd III scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the second half for his second big game in as many nights.
“We didn’t want to lose on the home floor,” said Boyd, who went 5 of 10 from 3-point range. “We preached all summer saying protect the home floor.”
Mladen Armus added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Bucs. Jeromy Rodriguez added 11 points and 12 rebounds.
A night earlier, ETSU (4-2) trailed Chicago State at halftime before winning by 25.
This time the task was much more daunting as Sam Houston State led 34-16 with less than eight minutes to go in the first half.
“They whooped us good,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “It was almost like they were running offense and we weren’t even out there.”
The Bucs didn’t lead until Boyd’s 3-pointer with 10:41 left put them up 52-49. Boyd’s transition 3-pointer moments earlier had tied the game at 49.
When Isaiah Tisdale sank a 3 from the corner, ETSU was up 55-49 thanks to a 26-7 run to start the second half.
“We came in and made some adjustments,” Forbes said. “We got more aggressive on defense and good things happpen on offense. Heck of a run. We finally got the crowd into it.”
Sam Houston State (3-4) was led by Kai Mitchell’s 16 points.
Sam Houston State came out making everything and led 18-4 in the early going. The Bearkats were ahead 42-29 at halftime.
The Bucs were playing their third game in a row without the services of Bo Hodges, who has a groin injury. Forbes said Hodges is “day-to-day.”
Jackson State earned its first win of the season earlier in the day, beating winless Chicago State 81-68.
ETSU plays host to North Dakota State on Saturday at 4 p.m. before hitting the road for games at Georgia Southern on Tuesday night and at Wofford on Dec. 1.