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Bucs push winning streak over Mocs to seven

Joe Avento • Feb 2, 2019 at 11:13 PM

CHATTANOOGA — It was a total team victory for the East Tennessee State men’s basketball team, but nobody did more than Bo Hodges.

Hodges did a little bit of everything and the Bucs beat Chattanooga 77-64 on Saturday at McKenzie Arena for their seventh consecutive victory against their in-state Southern Conference rival.

Hodges spent the afternoon stuffing the stat sheet with one of his more active performances of the season. The sophomore who overcame two injuries in the preseason finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. He also blocked a shot.

“Bo knows basketball,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “Hopefully, he’s to the point where he’s healthy. He’s doing a lot of different things for us. He’s just being a great all-around player.”

Hodges led the team in rebounding for the second game in a row.

“The last couple of games I’ve just been trying to affect the game more,” said Hodges, the SoCon’s reigning freshman of the year. “I told the bigs I was tired of them getting all the rebounds — I’m going to take some of them.”

Hodges has had some solid games against the Mocs (10-14, 5-6), who lost their third in a row. He says it’s just a coincidence, but Chattanooga coach Lamont Paris has definitely noticed.

“He’s played well against us typically,” Paris said. “That happens sometimes. He was making some plays. They made a couple Duke plays, finishes. That’s a basketball player making a finish right there.”

Hodges had a lot of help.

Lucas N’Guessan scored 14 points, Patrick Good added 13 and Tray Boyd had 10 for ETSU (19-5, 9-2).

Good has become the Bucs’ not-so-secret weapon in the closing minute of each victory. He’s the most dependable free-throw shooter on the team and his teammates work hard to get him the ball when the opponents are forced to foul. He responded with four in a row from the line in the final 60 seconds and finished 7-for-7.

Kevin Easley and Donovann Toatley each scored 12 points to lead the Mocs.

After ETSU jumped out to a 10- point lead midway through the first half, the Mocs climbed back and took a 33-30 lead at halftime when Kevon Tucker’s basket at the buzzer was ruled to have come too late for ETSU.

Isaiah Tisdale put the Bucs up for good at 44-42 with a layup on a pass from N’Guessan with 13:40 remaining. Good followed with his first 3-pointer of the game and suddenly, the Bucs were up 47-42.

Moments later, Tisdale followed his own miss with an offensive rebound and found N’Guessan for a dunk and a 49-42 lead.

When Boyd connected from the top of the key for a 3-pointer, it was 52-42.

The Mocs cut it to four twice, but when Good connected from 3-point range again with 4:31 left, it capped a 7-0 run and ETSU had its biggest lead of the game to that point, 68-54.

“We talked about it at halftime, that we needed to play harder,” N’Guessan said.

ON POINT

The Bucs’ point guards have been taking care of the ball. Neither Tisdale nor Daivien Williamson has committed a turnover in the past two games.

“That’s unbelievable,” Forbes said. “Those guys are playing great.”

TAG TEAM

Hodges and N’Guessan combined to score 15 consecutive points for ETSU in the first half.

N’Guessan made six of his seven shots while Hodges hit 6 of 8.

“My teammates were finding me and that was fun,” N’Guessan said after his career-high scoring performance. “It’s good to help out and do whatever you can to win. You have to be ready.”

OUT OF THE PAINT

There might be nothing Forbes hates more than seeing an opponent’s big men step out and hit a 3-pointer, especially when he has big men who score in the paint and guard the basket. Ramon Villa, a 6-foot-8 forward, hit both his 3-point attempts and 7-foot Thomas Smallwood also made one. All three shots came in the first half.

“It drives me crazy,” Forbes said.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Bucs hit 29 of 56 shots from the field (51.8 percent). They were also 12-for-13 on free throws and made 7 of 18 from 3-point range. ETSU outrebounded the Mocs 32-28 and had 18 assists on its 29 baskets.

Good and Tisdale each had four assists.

UP NEXT

The Bucs host league-leading Wofford on Thursday night in what will undoubtedly be the most anticipated game on the ETSU home schedule. Chattanooga is at VMI next.

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