ETSU’s basketball team remained undefeated at home Tuesday night with a 78-69 non-conference victory over its oldest rival, Appalachian State, at Freedom Hall.
The Mountaineers cut the Bucs’ advantage, which had been as large as 14 points, to two on three occasions late in the second half, only to see ETSU make enough plays to keep the lead each time.
“Coach is always preaching it’s like boxing,” said Tray Boyd, who led ETSU with 22 points. “You get hit, you’ve got to be prepared to hit back. Every time today we just hit back.”
The Bucs, who improved to 6-1, beat Appalachian State for the seventh time in a row in the teams’ first meeting since 2011.
ETSU has led 188 out of 200 minutes in its five home games this season.
“A lot of the credit for that goes to our kids for being resilient,” said ETSU coach Steve Forbes, whose team won its third game in four days.
Bo Hodges added 19 points and Lucas N’Guessan had 14 points and nine rebounds for ETSU. The 7-foot N’Guessan also blocked three shots and hit his second 3-pointer of the season.
Appalachian State led for all of 31 seconds, at 14-12, before the Bucs scored 11 points in a row to start a 20-5 run. The final time the Mountaineers got within two, at 60-58 with 5:12 remaining, Boyd split two defenders and scored in the paint and then passed to Daivien Williamson for a 3-pointer on the next possession as the Bucs stretched the lead to 12 down the stretch.
“We showed some fight the second half and I’m certainly proud of that,” said Appalachian State coach Dustin Kerns, a Kingsport native. “That’s part of our growth, learning how to win on the road against a very good team. I thought we fought and played a much better half in the second half and really made it a tight game.”
With forward Jeromy Rodriguez on the sidelines after suffering a concussion in the Bucs’ last game, Vonnie Patterson got the start on his 21st birthday and grabbed 14 rebounds. He had three points in what was likely the most productive 1-for-7 shooting night a player could have.
“He’s a scrappy kid,” Forbes said. “That’s why we recruited him.”
Patterson said when Forbes informed him he was starting, he told him he’d better get some rebounds.
“Yeah, he definitely did, but I knew that already,” Patterson said. “Jeromy’s a big rebounder on our team so I had to play that kind of role.”
It’s the second concussion in as many seasons for Rodriguez, who missed the season-ending loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay last year.
BY THE NUMBERS
Thanks to Patterson, ETSU out-rebounded Appalachian State 42-34. The Bucs went 10 for 27 from 3-point range with six players making at least one. Boyd was 4 for 8 to lead the way and led the team with four assists.
Appalachian State (4-4) was led by O’Showen Williams’ 22 points. Isaac Johnson added 14 points and 15 rebounds.
The Bucs play at Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday before their one pre-Christmas SoCon game at The Citadel on Wednesday, Dec. 4.