A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Samford’s Jermaine Marshall at the end of the first half and a quick start after halftime propelled the Bulldogs to a 69-59 Southern Conference victory over East Tennessee State at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tennessee.
With the win, Samford (13-7 overall) improves to 7-0 in Southern Conference for the first time and retains sole possession of first place in the SoCon.
Marshall’s 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer, which gave Samford a 35-33 lead, put a positive ending on a half that was controlled by East Tennessee (7-13 overall, 3-4 SoCon). The Bucs, who are last in the SoCon in 3-point shooting percentage, made 4 of their first six 3-pointers and led for 18 minutes and seven seconds of the first half.
Marshall came out of the halftime locker room and quickly hit a 3-pointer and a short jumper to start a 12-2 run in the first five minutes of the half. The tight game at halftime turned into a double-digit advantage for Samford.
East Tennessee chipped away at the deficit and eventually pulled within two points on a layup by Brock Jancek with 7:20 left. Samford’s Logan Dye then sandwiched a three-point play and a layup around ETSU, and Marshall hit a 3-pointer to build the lead back to 63-55 for the Bulldogs.
Again, though, the Bucs hung around. ETSU cut the deficit to 63-59 with 2:48 left and Marshall was on the bench after fouling out. After forcing a turnover, ETSU had the opportunity to cut the lead to one possession. However, AJ Staton-McCray stole the ball at midcourt, raced down for a layup and hit the free throw after being fouled. Following a defensive stop, McCray hit a short jumper to give Samford a 68-59 lead with 1:18 remaining.
Dye had 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal for the Bulldogs. Marshall finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and a steal. Jaden Campbell made a key contribution off the bench with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Samford hit just six 3-pointers, which marks only the second time in seven SoCon games that the Bulldogs didn’t reach double digits in that category. But the Bulldogs won points in the paint (34-26), second chance points (10-2), fastbreak points (13-4) and bench points (24-15).
The Bulldogs play again on Saturday when Western Carolina (11-9 overall, 4-3) visits for a SoCon game tip-off at 5 p.m. at the Pete Hanna Center.
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