Kingsport Times-News: Spartans stop Bucs’ eight-game winning streak
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Spartans stop Bucs’ eight-game winning streak

Joe Avento • Jan 19, 2019 at 8:52 PM

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes could see it coming. His team just couldn’t do anything about it.

UNC Greensboro led the entire way and held off ETSU 75-68 in a Southern Conference game Saturday at Freedom Hall. The result, the Bucs’ first home loss of the season, ended their eight-game winning streak.

“There was no doubt who the better team was today,” said Forbes, whose team had won surprisingly close games against bottom-echelon SoCon teams in its last two outings. “All in all, I felt like they were the more physical team, the tougher team and more hungry. A lot of the time, that’s what’s going to win.”

Forbes had warned what would happen if his team didn’t play well, and his fears proved well founded. The Bucs (16-5, 6-2) hadn’t lost since Dec. 15 against Illinois.

“We’re certainly pleased with the result tonight,” said UNCG coach Wes Miller, whose team has won three in a row against ETSU. “We just have an unbelievable amount of respect for Steve, his program and this particular team. We think they’re as good as anybody in college basketball. We also have respect for how difficult of an environment this is to play in.

“I thought our kids showed a lot of great fight.”

The game was played in front of ETSU’s largest home crowd of the season. Attendance was announced as 5,702.

SCATTERED AND SMOTHERED

Shooting — from the free-throw line and 3-point range — doomed the Bucs. They missed half their 18 free throws and hit just 1 of 9 3-point attempts in the first before finishing 7-for-22.

“At home, you can’t shoot the ball like that and expect to win, especially from the free-throw line when you’re getting there,” Forbes said. “We didn’t capitalize on being aggressive and getting to the free-throw line.

“Those are losing numbers.”

Patrick Good missed all five of his 3-pointers and Daivien Williamson hit 1 of 5.

“A lot of those were pretty darn good looks,” Forbes said. “I wouldn’t expect that at home, especially. That was a large part of why we couldn’t get the lead because we couldn’t make any shots.”

TRAY’S TREYS

After UNCG (17-3, 6-1) took its biggest lead of the game at 46-30, ETSU’s Tray Boyd III put on a show. He connected on three 3-pointers in a minute and suddenly the Bucs were down only 46-39.

After a dunk by Isaiah Miller, Boyd struck again and the Spartans’ lead was 48-42 with 12:09 remaining.

“Just doing what I was supposed to do,” said Boyd, who led the Bucs with 17 points. “Playing my role. I had the shots and the team trusted me.”

ETSU never got closer than six the rest of the way, however.

“I felt like we had a chance,” Forbes said. “We weren’t playing great, but he came in and sparked us. We got back in it.”

SURPRISE ATTACK

Angelo Allegri, a 6-foot-7 freshman, hit 5 of 6 3-point shots and scored 15 points for the Spartans. He had made nine 3-pointers all season going into the game.

Francis Alonso also scored 15 points for UNCG, but he earned them. He shot 4-for-13 from the field and committed five turnovers while being hounded by ETSU’s Bo Hodges much of the day. Hodges finished with three steals and three blocked shots.

James Dickey ended up with 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots for UNGC as he continues to return from a foot injury. Kyrin Galloway made all six of his shots and scored 14 points.

BY THE NUMBERS

Jeromy Rodriguez had 16 points and 14 rebounds for ETSU.

The Bucs outrebounded UNCG 38-35.

The Spartans hit 8 of 9 from the line and 11 of 22 from 3-point range.

UP NEXT

The Bucs get a week off before playing at Western Carolina on Saturday. Four of their next five games are on the road, and the home game during that stretch is against league-leading Wofford on Feb. 7.

UNCG gets four consecutive home games, beginning Thursday with The Citadel.

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