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Boyd gets it going in second half as ETSU beats Chattanooga

Joe Avento • Feb 5, 2020 at 11:50 PM

CHATTANOOGA — Tray Boyd left his conscience back in Johnson City, and that was a good thing for the East Tennessee State basketball team.

Boyd shook off a horrendous first half and scored all 18 of his points after halftime as ETSU beat Chattanooga for the 10th consecutive time, 80-64, Wednesday night at McKenzie Arena.

The senior guard, who was coming off a career-high 30-point effort in his last game, missed all six of his shots in the first half. Luckily for the Bucs, it didn’t stop him from shooting.

“I knew we started a little sluggish and I felt I like was a big part of that,” Boyd said. “Coach just told me to keep shooting. That’s what I did. I didn’t hesitate. They believe in me and I believe in myself.”

The Bucs improved to 20-4 overall, 9-2 in the Southern Conference. They’ve reached 20 wins in each of Steve Forbes’ five seasons and those five consecutive 20-win seasons is a program record. Forbes’ record at ETSU is 120-44.

Chattanooga fell to 14-10, 5-6.

All five ETSU starters scored in double figures. Daivien Williamson finished with the first double-double of his career with 14 points and 10 assists, many of them coming on passes to Boyd.

“He was awesome,” Forbes said of Williamson. “He was getting in the lane, he was making shots and making great decisions. I loved to see that.”

Bo Hodges added 16 points, while Lucas N’Guessan had 12 and Isiah Tisdale had 11. N’Guessan also had 12 rebounds and three of his baskets were dunks as the Bucs pulled away in the second half.

“You just have to play with confidence,” Forbes said. “You have to know who you are and you win games because you know your identity. Our team’s a gritty team and they share the ball. We try to play smart and hard, and over the course of time we grinded it out and found a way to win.

“One of the things about making shots is it energizes your defense and we did that tonight.”

Boyd went 6 for 9 in the second half, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range. Some of them were from NBA range. His deep 3-pointer with 2:20 left was the death knell for the Mocs, as it put ETSU ahead 74-59.

“That’s what he do,” Williamson said. “We all believe in him.”

Williamson’s driving basket with 9:10 left broke a 51-51 tie and gave the Bucs the lead for good. N’Guessan blocked a shot, leading to a 3-pointer from Hodges. Seconds later, Boyd made a 3-pointer and the rout was on. The final margin was ETSU’s largest lead.

The Mocs led most of the first half thanks to 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range and Ramon Vila’s inside presence. Chattanooga led 35-29 at halftime.

BY THE NUMBERS

For the second game in a row, ETSU was out-rebounded badly in the first half, 17-12, but rallied to win the battle of the boards, 31-28. Chattanooga shot 54 percent in the first half, 36 in the second. The Bucs shot 64 percent in the second half and turned the ball over only six times.

The Mocs were led by David Jean-Baptiste’s 16 points. Vila and Matt Ryan each had 14.

BO CHASING 1,000

Hodges is on pace to join the 1,000-point club in the next couple of weeks. Hodges needs 88 points to become the 42nd ETSU player to reach 1,000 points for his career.

JEROMY STILL OUT

ETSU was playing without senior forward Jeromy Rodriguez, who missed his eighth consecutive game with an injured foot. He was on the bench with his left foot still in a walking boot, indicating that he’s likely not very close to returning.

UP NEXT

The Bucs play at Mercer on Saturday — a quick turnaround after the Bears’ surprising win over ETSU last week — while Chattanooga is at Wofford