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Tisdale leads Bucs past Western Carolina

Joe Avento • Jan 19, 2020 at 1:52 AM

CULLOWHEE, N.C. — Isaiah Tisdale put East Tennessee State on top early and he didn’t let up until the final horn.

Tisdale had 26 points and 12 rebounds, hitting 6 of 9 from 3-point range, and ETSU defeated Western Carolina 85-66 in a Southern Conference men’s basketball game Saturday night at Ramsey Center.

The victory left the Bucs (17-3, 6-1) alone in first place in the SoCon.

“Isaiah set the tone for the game by coming out and being aggressive on offense and made big shots,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said.

Tisdale swished a 3-pointer on ETSU’s first possession and the Bucs never trailed. He was 5-for-5 on 3-pointers in the first half, helping the Bucs lead 52-34 at halftime.

“As soon as I shot the first one, it looked really good,” Tisdale said. “I knew it was going to be a good night for me.”

ETSU has beaten Western Carolina 26 times in the past 27 meetings between the schools. That includes the last nine, all under Forbes.

Tisdale’s game came on the same court Patrick Good made a school-record 11 3-pointers last season.

“When you’re a basketball player, you definitely know,” said Tisdale, who scored 29 points against The Citadel last season. “Once you get that first shot off ... like Patrick Good last year. For the past couple games, we’ve been off a little bit. The coaches knew we were going to start making shots. We knew we’d start making shots. We all been in the gym.”

BO INJURY SCARE

ETSU’s Bo Hodges was injured late in the first half when he went down hard on a contested dunk attempt.

No foul was called, but after the action was stopped with Hodges writhing on the ground in pain, the officials reviewed the video and assessed a flagrant foul to Western Carolina’s Mason Faulkner. That led to a four-point possession when Tray Boyd made the free throws and followed with a midrange jumper.

Trainers and the team doctor were checking Hodges’ left knee on the sideline. He was taken to the locker room but returned for the second half.

Hodges finished with 14 points and a team-high four assists.

Tray Boyd added 16 points and 7-footer Lucas N’Guessan had 15 for the Bucs, who hit 10 of 23 3-point attempts. N’Guessan scored at will inside in the early going and even made a 3-pointer the first half.

“That was about as good as we played this year offensively in the first half against a quality opponent,” Forbes said. “The ball moved. It was a lot of guys. Bo was playing well. Luke was playing well inside. Vonnie (Patterson) was playing well.”

Western Carolina cut the Bucs’ lead to 61-51 midway through the second half before Tisdale, who shot 9-for-13 overall, scored inside. The Catamounts never got any closer.

“They made a run like I knew they would,” Forbes said.

WESTERN CAROLINA LEADERS

Faulkner led the Catamounts (12-5, 4-2) with 18 points and five assists.

Xavier Cork added 16 points and Kingsport’s Matt Halvorsen had 11, shooting 2-for-5 3-point range.

STILL NO JEROMY

ETSU starting forward Jeromy Rodriguez missed his fourth consecutive game with an injured foot.

In his absence, Patterson got another start and finished with nine points and seven rebounds. He also got into the 3-point act with one of his own.

DOTSON OUT

While the Bucs were playing without Rodriguez, Western Carolina was missing injured big man Carlos Dotson, who watched the game on the bench in street clothes.

Dotson, a 6-7, 270-pound senior, averages 13.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds in the Catamounts’ loss to Furman on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

The Bucs get a week off before playing host to rival Chattanooga on Jan. 25.

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