By Collin Brooks
The celebration for two 1,000 point scorers will have to wait a couple of days, but the ETSU Buccaneers still have plenty to be smiling about after their 90-69 win over The Citadel on Thursday night inside of Freedom Hall.
T.J. Cromer finished with a team-high 17 points but fouled out with 5:07 remaining in the contest — needing five points to reach the milestone. His teammate, A.J. Merriweather finished the night with six points — needing just six more for 1,000 points.
“I had a goal that I wanted to reach tonight and I didn’t get it, but that is okay, we got the win,” Cromer said.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Desonta Bradford each finished the contest with 12 points for the Bucs, while David Burrell finished with 11. The Citadel was led by Preston Parks, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
For the Bucs, it was their defensive intensity that led the way, only allowing the Bulldogs to shoot 34 percent from the field.
“It was a good solid win for us tonight, I thought that we really defended for 40 minutes,” Forbes said.
Early on in the contest, the Bucs were struggling to pull away from the Bulldogs, especially after Bradford picked up his second foul just three minutes into the contest. He was forced to sit the rest of the half, but after the contest was tied at eight with 15:36 left before the half, the Bucs went on a 24-9 run in order to take a 32-17 lead with seven minutes remaining. ETSU went on to take a 45-32 lead into halftime.
The Citadel was never able to get the contest back within single digits, getting within 10 points, 55-45, with 14 minutes left in the contest. The Bucs would expand their lead to 78-56 with just over six minutes remaining and that lead would never squander.
Now the Bucs (19-6, 9-3) turn their attention to hosting Mercer on Saturday at 4 p.m. Forbes said that he has a lot of respect for Bob Hoffman’s squad and is familiar with Ria’n Holland, who he coached at Wichita State.
“I look at them like Wofford, you have to throw their record out the door,” he said. “You know they are talented, you know they are well coached.”
But the Bucs only have to do one thing to finish the season where they want to, according to their coach.
“Here is the thing, if we win the rest of our games, we will be in good shape,” Forbes said. “And why can’t we? We are as good as any team in this league. We just have to take it one game at a time.”