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Bucs topple school record in rout of Division II Lions

Joe Avento • Dec 29, 2019 at 9:14 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Steve Forbes was asked how he keeps coaching with his team leading an overmatched opponent by 70 points.

“I think you just keep playing to your standard,” Forbes said Sunday after the East Tennessee State men’s basketball team broke the school record for margin of victory in a 117-48 no-nonsense win over Mars Hill at Freedom Hall.

“Trust me, those guys know what they need to be doing or I’m not going to put up with it. That’s culture. That’s something that we’ve built over time. I didn’t really have to say a whole lot. They know what’s expected of them.”

The 69-point win broke the previous mark of 68, set in 2000 against Warren Willson.

“We came out focused and we didn’t take our opponent lightly,” Bucs guard Tray Boyd said.

The Bucs (12-2) led by as many as 72 points in earning their 11th nonconference victory for the first time in Forbes’ five seasons at ETSU.

Five ETSU players scored in double figures, led by Bo Hodges’ 19 points. Jeromy Rodriguez and Boyd added 18 apiece, Daivien Williamson had 13 and Isaiah Tisdale had 10.

Jamal Bryant led Mars Hill (6-5), which came within six of Elon earlier in the season, with 10 points. The game counted as an exhibition for the NCAA Division II Lions but counted in the win column for the Bucs.


The Bucs forced 26 turnovers, and Boyd’s eight steals were the second most in school history. Boyd also led the team with six assists.

ETSU doubled Mars Hill’s rebound total, 56-28. Rodriguez had 13.


ETSU has led for 304 of 320 minutes in its eight home games, all victories.


ETSU’s Octavion Corley scored with two seconds left in the first half and, somehow, Boyd stole the inbound pass and swished a 10-foot baseline shot just as the buzzer sounded.

“I knew it was like three seconds when I stole it,” Boyd said. “I timed it pretty well.”

That put the Bucs up 61-26 at halftime, their biggest lead of the opening 20 minutes. ETSU scored its most points in a half since getting 65 against Mercer in 2007.


After going scoreless — on just one shot — in the first half, ETSU’s Patrick Good scored five quick points to start the second. He finished with eight on 3-of-4 shooting.


Lucas N’Guessan, ETSU’s 7-foot starting center, took advantage of his height advantage. All three of his baskets came on dunks.


When the Bucs reached the 100-point mark on a free throw by Rodriguez, there was still 9:19 left to play and the school scoring record of 125 points seemed in jeopardy.

They would have come closer if they’d been a little more efficient from the foul line, where they missed 15 of their 32 free throws.


Forbes likes to say there’s a reason some players find themselves open: The opponent wants them to shoot.

The Bucs’ Vonnie Patterson came in shooting 17% from 3-point range and found himself open late in the first half. He couldn’t resist pulling the trigger and swished a shot from the right wing.

Patterson finished 1-for-2 from long range, improving his rate to an even 20%.


The Bucs have nothing but Southern Conference games the rest of the regular season, a slate that begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Wofford at Freedom Hall.