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ETSU holds off App State

Joe Avento • Nov 27, 2019 at 1:42 AM

JOHNSON CITY — They might cut it close, but the East Tennessee State Bucs know how to keep the lead.

The ETSU men’s basketball team remained undefeated at home Tuesday night with a 78-69 nonconference 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 (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 in a row to start a 20-5 run. The final time the Mountaineers got within two, 60-58 with 5:12 to play, Boyd split two defenders to score in the paint. He then passed to Daivien Williamson for a 3 on the next possession, and the Bucs pushed their 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.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

With forward Jeromy Rodriguez on the sideline 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, the coach 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 outrebounded Appalachian State 42-34. The Bucs went 10-for-27 from 3-point range and six players made at least one. Boyd hit 4 of 8 attempts to lead the way and led the team with four assists.

O’Showen Williams scored 22 points to lead Appalachian State (4-4). Isaac Johnson added 14 points and hauled down 15 rebounds.

UP NEXT

The Bucs play at Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday.

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