Ledarrius Brewer got his 1,000 and the Bucs escaped with the win.
All in all, it was pretty good afternoon for the East Tennessee State basketball team.
Brewer reached the 1,000-point mark for his career — although it took him longer than expected to do it — and ETSU continued its mastery of Western Carolina with a 59-48 Southern Conference victory Wednesday at Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, North Carolina.
It was ETSU’s 30th win over the Catamounts in the teams’ last 31 meetings. The Bucs improved to 8-5 overall, 4-1 in the SoCon.
Ledarrius Brewer and Ty Brewer combined to score 21 ETSU points during a 10-minute stretch in the second half as the Bucs pulled away from a close game with smothering defense.
The two brothers combined for 27 points — Ledarrius had 15 and Ty got 12 — after getting 45 in the previous meeting with Western Carolina.
Matt Halvorsen’s 3-pointer with 4:28 left forged a 45-45 tie, but the Bucs finished the game on a 14-3 run. The Catamounts (7-6, 0-4) didn’t have a field goal over the final four minutes.
Brewer came into the game needing three points to reach 1,000 for his career. He scored the Bucs’ first basket, but before he could score again he was whistled for two fouls and headed to the bench. He played just eight minutes in the first half.
He finally reached the milestone with 15:23 left when his slashing layup found the bottom of the basket.
BUCS BY THE NUMBERS
David Sloan had 12 points and five assists for ETSU. Damari Monsanto led ETSU again with 13 rebounds. That gives him 27 in his last two games. He also contributed nine points, as did Vonnie Patterson.
KEEPING IT CLOSE
The Bucs got off to an abysmal start, missing 15 of their first 18 shots. Two days after setting the school record with 16 3-pointers, they missed their first five.
“It was a night where we didn’t shoot the ball well, obviously as well as we did on Monday,” ETSU coach Jason Shay said. “But our defense kept us in the game.”
Twelve minutes into the game, Western Carolina was on top 18-8. At that point, the Catamounts had outrebounded ETSU 18-7.
Halvorsen then canned a 3-pointer to increase Western Carolina’s lead to 21-8.
The Bucs embarked on a 19-7 run to end the half by hitting three 3-pointers in a row. Sloan gave them their first lead at 25-23 with a mid-range jump shot with 1:50 left in the half.
Western regained the lead and took a 28-27 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
ETSU held the Catamounts to 20 points in the second half. Western Carolina finished 29.6% from the field and went 4 for 26 on 3-pointers. The Bucs eventually won the battle of the boards, 41-36, and won despite shooting 39 percent and going 4 for 17 from long range.
“I’ll give credit to our defense,” Ledarrius Brewer said. “Like coach says, defense travels. We transferred that over to the offensive end.”
While the Bucs were struggling making shots, the Catamounts couldn’t pull away because they weren’t shooting any better.
“We’re not allowing our offense to dictate our defense,” Shay said. “We stuck the course. We didn’t let one end of the floor bother us. Any team that has any championship mettle, you’ve got to be able to defend and rebound no matter what your offense is doing.”
CATAMOUNTS BY THE NUMBERS
Xavier Cork led Western Carolina with 13 points. Halvorsen added 12, going 4 for 11 on 3-pointers. Mason Faulkner, one of the top scorers in the SoCon, finished with nine points, eight fewer than his average.
Tyler Harris had 11 rebounds for the Catamounts.
The Bucs play host to Furman on Saturday just a week after the Paladins handed them their lone SoCon loss.