The East Tennessee State basketball team ran its winning streak to six games with a convincing 98-73 win over The Citadel on Thursday night at McAlister Field House.
Facing the nation's leading offense, the Bucs (14-4 overall, 4-1 in the Southern Conference) were keyed in on the defensive end as The Citadel (9-6, 1-3) hit only one of its first 10 shots to start the second half. The Bulldogs, who came into the game averaging a nation's best 96.8 points per game, didn't crack the 50-point mark until 6:21 remaining.
"I thought we were really locked in defensively," ETSU coach Steve Forbes said after his team held the Bulldogs to 34.7 percent from the field. "We had great preparation and each day got better and better. We imposed our will defensively and our physicality and size defensively altered their shots at the rim."
The Bucs had plenty of offense as well, hitting 40 of 71 shots from the field and 14 of 31 from 3-point range.
Freshman point guard Daivien Williamson led the Bucs with 24 points, while Tray Boyd III and Isaiah Tisdale came off the bench to score 16 and 14, respectively. Jeromy Rodriguez totaled 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, and Patrick Good came through with 10 points.
Williamson went 9 of 13 from the field, but was more proud of the defensive effort.
Ahead 39-31 at halftime, the Bucs scored the first 10 points of the second half to pull away. ETSU didn't let up from there, pushing the lead to 26 points when a timeout was called with 13:35 left in the second half.
"We knew they led the nation in scoring, so we were locked in starting that second half," Williamson said. "That's what we did. We got focused and we had that big run. We got the momentum going and we got the win."
Rodriguez grabbed a game-high 13 defensive rebounds and Lucas N'Guessan finished with eight points and eight rebounds as the Bucs won the rebounding battle 50-31 over the Bulldogs.
It led to ETSU advantages 16-9 in second-chance points and outscoring the Bulldogs 46-24 in the paint.
"I know my role on the team and my role is to get the rebound every single time," Rodriguez said about the mentality to not give the Bulldogs extra scoring opportunities. "I try to do my best every time I step on the floor. When any of the bigs get the rebound, we just kick it out of the post because we have a lot of guys who can take it down the floor and shoot the three."
Lew Stallworth led The Citadel with 18 points and Kaiden Rice had 17. However, they were no match for ETSU's all-around effort as the Bucs outscored The Citadel 25-9 in fast-break points and 40-32 off the bench. The bench scoring was boosted by the big numbers by Boyd and Tisdale, who were starters earlier in the season.
"Those guys are starters, they're starter-type players, but they have good attitudes (to help the team)," Forbes said. "Tray comes off the bench and it's instant offense. Tisdale can do a lot of things. He can score, he can defend or run the team. To have him and then Daivien score 24 points as a freshman, that's a pretty good night."