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Tisdale leads Bucs past Western Carolina

Joe Avento • Jan 18, 2020 at 9:45 PM

CULLOWHEE, N.C. — Isaiah Tisdale put East Tennessee State on top early and he didn’t let up until the final horn.

Tisdale had 26 points and 12 rebounds, going 6 of 9 from 3-point range, as ETSU defeated Western Carolina 85-66 in a Southern Conference basketball game Saturday night at Ramsey Center.

The victory left the Bucs alone in first place in the SoCon at 6-1. They’re 17-3 overall.

“Isaiah set the tone for the game by coming out and being aggressive on offense and made big shots,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said.

Tisdale swished a 3-pointer on ETSU’s first possession and the Bucs never trailed. He was 5 for 5 on 3-pointers in the first half as the Bucs led 52-34 at halftime.

“As soon as I shot the first one, it looked really good,” Tisdale said. “I knew it was going to be a good night for me.”

ETSU has beaten Western Carolina 26 times in the last 27 meetings between the two schools including the last nine meetings, all under Forbes.

Tisdale’s game came on the same court where Patrick Good made a school-record 11 3-pointers last season.

“When you’re a basketball player, you definitely know,” said Tisdale, who scored 29 points against The Citadel last season. “Once you get that first shot off … like Patrick Good last year. For the past couple games, we’ve been off a little bit. The coaches knew we’re going to start making shots. We knew we’d start making shots. We all been in the gym.”

BO INJURY SCARE

ETSU’s Bo Hodges was injured late in the first half when he went down hard on a contested dunk attempt.

No foul was called on the play, but after the action was stopped with Hodges writhing on the ground in pain, the officials reviewed the video and assessed a flagrant foul to Western Carolina’s Mason Faulkner.

It led to a four-point possession when Tray Boyd made the free throws and followed with a mid-range jumper.

Trainers and the team doctor were checking Hodges’ left knee on the sideline. He was taken to the locker room but returned for the second half.

Hodges finished with 14 points and a team-high four assists.

Tray Boyd added 16 points and Lucas N’Guessan had 15 for the Bucs, who finished 10 of 23 on 3-pointers. N’Guessan, ETSU’s 7-footer, scored at will inside in the early going and even made a 3-pointer the first half.

“That was about as good as we played this year offensively in the first half against a quality opponent,” Forbes said. “The ball moved. It was a lot of guys. Bo was playing well. Luke was playing well inside. Vonnie (Patterson) was playing well.”

Western Carolina cut the Bucs’ lead to 61-51 midway through the second half before Tisdale, who shot 9 for 13 overall, scored inside. The Catamounts never got any closer.

“They made a run like I knew they would,” Forbes said.

WESTERN CAROLINA LEADERS

Faulkner led the Catamounts (12-5 overall, 4-2 in the SoCon) with 18 points and five assists. Xavier Cork added 16 and Kingsport’s Matt Halvorsen had 11. Halvorsen was 2 of 5 from 3-point range.

STILL NO JEROMY

ETSU starting forward Jeromy Rodriguez missed his fourth consecutive game with an injured foot. In his absence, Patterson got another start and finished with nine points and seven rebounds. He also got into the 3-point act with one of his own.

DOTSON OUT

While the Bucs were playing without Rodrigiuez, Western Carolina was missing injured big man Carlos Doston, who watched the game on the bench in street clothes. Dotson, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound senior, averages 13.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds in the Catamounts’ loss to Furman on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

The Bucs get a week off before playing host to rival Chattanooga on Jan. 25. Western Carolina plays at Mercer on Wednesday night.

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