Men's Basketball Drops 63-59 Decision to ETSU
Senior Jalen Riley and junior Lester Wilson combined for 39 points, while the East Tennessee State men's basketball team overcame a slow start to post a 63-59 non-conference win over Morehead State on Monday evening (Dec. 1) at Johnson Arena.
The Southern Conference Buccaneers improve to 4-1 overall and 2-1 on the road, while the Ohio Valley Conference Eagles slip to 4-5 overall and 2-1 at home. ETSU snaps a four-game skid in the all-time series, but MSU still holds a 28-25 head-to-head advantage.
"Give East Tennessee State credit," Head Coach Sean Woods said. "I thought we had been playing pretty well against zone defenses, but theirs gave us trouble tonight. We were without our starting point guard (due to injury) and never got in a groove on the offensive end."
Riley tallied a game-high 21 points off the bench, while Wilson added 18 and senior Rashawn Rembert contributed 10. Riley made just 5-of-16 from the field, but canned 9-of-12 from the free-throw stripe. Wilson drilled 6-of-10 overall, including 5-of-7 from long range.
The game featured eight ties and 15 lead changes. East Tennessee State hit 66 percent (25-of-38) from the free-throw line. Morehead State made 72 percent (13-of-18) from the same spot, but the Buccaneers were +12 on makes and +20 on attempts.
"We fouled too much tonight," Woods said. "We need to do a better job of moving our feet and not our hands. It's hard to win when the opponent makes more free throws than you attempt. That's something we will continue to work on as we move along."
East Tennessee State opened the contest with a field-goal drought of 9:10. The Buccaneers converted just 25 percent (6-of-24) from the floor before intermission, but knocked down 50 percent (9-of-18) in the second half to finish at 36 percent (15-of-42).
Morehead State led for more than 21 minutes, while East Tennessee State was in the driver's seat for less than 13. The Eagles opened up a six-point advantage with 9:58 remaining, but the Buccaneers manufactured a late 13-4 run to secure the victory.
Senior Angelo Warner paced Morehead State with 13 points, while sophomore Corban Collins and junior Lyonell Gaines netted 12 apiece. Collins pulled down a game-best seven rebounds, while Warner was credited with a game-high five assists.
The Eagles registered advantages of 36-30 in rebounds, 14-11 in offensive boards, 14-5 in second-chance points and 16-8 in paint points. The Buccaneers turned 16 turnovers into 16 points, while MSU only managed eight points off 12 miscues.
"ETSU had scored a lot of points and shot a lot of threes this season, so we couldn't zone much," Woods said. "We had a few missed defensive assignments down the stretch, and their guys made us pay. They stepped up and hit big shots when they needed to."
MSU continues its stretch of four games in eight days on Thursday at 8 p.m. when it visits Conference USA opponent UAB. The Eagles are back at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Horizon League foe Oakland.
"I thought our defense was pretty good tonight," Woods added. "I hope that's something we can build on. We just need to get past the injury bug. We've only played one game (out of nine) at full strength - and that was our win at Marshall. We're still a work in progress."