East Tennessee State stayed in a first-place tie in the Southern Conference men’s basketball race with a 72-67 victory over Virginia Military Institute in a game that won the Bucs zero style points.
“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we got it done,” said Daivien Williamson, who led ETSU with 20 points.
Patrick Good came off the bench to score 14 points just a few hours after becoming a father. It broke a long slump for Good, who made all six of his free throws.
“I thought that was awesome seeing Pat make some shots,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “He needs to make them. He deserves to make them. He became a father and I’m proud of him. I was real happy for him.”
ETSU, the second-worst free-throw shooting team in the SoCon, went 31-for-35 from the line and made all six of its foul shots in the final 48 seconds. The Bucs’ final nine points came from the line.
Williamson went 11-for-11 from the line.
Tray Boyd III had 14 points and five assists for the Bucs and Lucas N’Guessan added 12 points, including back-to-back dunks early in the second half.
“You just have to survive and advance,” Forbes said. “Credit to our kids for just finding a way to win.”
The Bucs (23-4, 12-2) were playing without Bo Hodges, their most versatile player. He was attending the funeral of his 21-year-old cousin who had a brain tumor.
Good had gone scoreless in five of ETSU’s last six games and had made just one of his last 20 shots. He looked more confident Saturday, just after his daughter, Braelyn Alexa Sarai Good, was born. He made 3 of 5 attempts from the field and 2 of 4 from 3-point range.
“I just needed something to get myself going,” Good said. “This past month has been a little frustrating, obviously. We’ve been winning, so I’ve been happy, but I want to perform well for my teammates, for my coaches and for Johnson City.”
Some of Good’s teammates didn’t know about his big news before the game.
“I just found out,” Williamson said afterward. “We congratulated him for his blessing and the win today. It was a good day for everybody. We know what Pat can do. We always tell him to keep shooting. We know when Pat gets going, Pat gets going.”
VMI (7-20, 2-12) led 38-32 at halftime thanks to a 7-for-18 performance from 3-point range and stretched its advantage to 43-34 early in the second half.
ETSU used a 12-0 run, started by Good’s 3-pointer, to eventually pull ahead 54-50.
Bucs freshman Charlie Weber’s putback put ETSU ahead for good, up 61-59 lead with 4:22 left. That was Weber’s only basket of the game.
BY THE NUMBERS
Travis Evee scored 23 points to lead the Keydets. The freshman guard shot 5-for-9 on 3-pointers. Sean Conway added 12 points and Kamdyn Curfman had 10.
VMI outrebounded the Bucs 35-34. The Keydets hit 9 of 33 attempts from long range, making just two in the second half.
In one of the most anticipated games at Freedom Hall in several years, the Bucs host Furman on Wednesday night. The battle for first place comes with three games to go in the regular season.