The ETSU men’s basketball team is so well-balanced, it’s no surprise to have a different player step up each night and lead the team in scoring.
On Thursday, it was Isaiah Tisdale’s (Lexington, Ky.) turn.
The Buccaneer junior guard netted a career-high 29 points to help fuel the Blue and Gold to a 91-83 win over The Citadel inside Freedom Hall.
Tisdale scored 20 in the second half, including connecting on six straight free throws in the final minute to secure ETSU’s 20th win of the season. Bo Hodges (Nashville, Tenn.) and Patrick Good (Johnson City, Tenn.) joined Tisdale in double figures as the Buccaneer duo each totaled 18 points. Overall, Tisdale, Hodges and Good combined for 65 points and 23 of the Bucs’ 32 made field goals. Hodges flirted with a triple-double as he also added eight rebounds and a career-high six assists, while Good knocked down five of ETSU’s 11 three-pointers. Tisdale dished out four assists and did not turn the ball over for the fourth time in the last five contests.
As a team, the Bucs shot 53 percent (32-60), registered 21 assists and only turned the ball over 10 times. The Blue and Gold scored 51 second-half points to overcome a six-point halftime deficit, while out-scoring the Bulldogs’ bench, 37-4. The Citadel, who hit 11 of its 17 made threes in the first half, shot 49 percent (29-59) from the field and 17-of-33 from beyond the arc (52 percent).
The Bucs snapped their two-game skid and improved to 20-7, 10-4, while picking up their third SoCon series sweep of the season. ETSU also recorded its fourth straight 20-win season – a feat that has only been accomplished one other time in program history (1988-89 to 1991-92).
The game was a tale of two halves as the Bulldogs controlled much of the momentum in the first half. The Citadel led by as many as seven points and took a six-point lead into the locker room.
The early stages of the game saw four ties and nine lead changes, but with ETSU leading 18-16 nine minutes into the contest, the Bulldogs went on an 11-2 run to take their largest lead of the night, 27-20, with 8:07 remaining before the break. From there, ETSU mounted a 17-9 run to regain a one-point lead, but the Bulldogs scored 10 of the final 13 points of the half to go up, 46-40.
The Bulldogs hit on 11 of their 19 three-point attempts in the first half en route to shooting 55 percent from the field (17-31). The Bucs were just 5 of 16 from beyond the arc and shot 46 percent from the field (16-35).
ETSU came out of halftime refocused and tightened up its defense as the Bucs held the Bulldogs without a three-pointer for the first eight minutes and mounted a 22-8 run to go ahead, 62-54, when Tray Boyd III (Memphis, Tenn.) found Tisdale open a for a three-pointer.
Over the next couple of minutes, the Citadel cut its deficit to three when Zane Najdawi – who scored a team-high 29 points – got fouled and hit all three free throws to make it 66-63 at the 10-minute mark.
With five minutes remaining, the Bucs eventually opened their largest lead of the night, 78-67, when Tisdale hit Hodges for a dunk in transition. Prior to that dunk, the Bulldogs saw Lew Stallworth called for his fifth personal foul at the 5:37 mark, which also led to a technical on the bench and Good made both free throw attempts.
The Citadel made it a three-point game (83-80) with 44 seconds remaining, but Tisdale and Jeromy Rodriguez (Santiago, Dominican Republic) combined to make the Bucs’ final eight free throws to secure the eight-point win.
Rodriguez totaled 10 of ETSU’s 40 rebounds as the Bucs were plus-16 on the glass.
Stallworth finished with a double-double as he recorded 18 points and 10 assists, while Kaiden Rice hit seven threes to end with 21 points.
With the loss, the Bulldogs dipped to 11-13, 3-10.
The Bucs wrap up their brief two-game homestand when they host Mercer on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.