Rice Scores 30 in Bulldogs’ SoCon Opening loss to ETSU

Rice Scores 30 in Bulldogs’ SoCon Opening loss to ETSU
Kaiden Rice scored a career-high 30 points as The Citadel falls at home to ETSU on Wednesday (Source: The Citadel Athletics)

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Citadel men's basketball team battled back from being down by as many as 21 with 10:00 left in regulation, led by a 30-point effort from junior Kaiden Rice, but the Bulldogs were unable to complete the comeback, falling 96-84 to preseason Southern Conference favorite ETSU Wednesday night. Game Information Final Score: ETSU 96, The Citadel 84 Records: ETSU (8-1, 1-0 SoCon), The Citadel (3-5, 0-1 SoCon) Location: Charleston, S.C. (McAlister Field House) Series: ETSU leads, 46-17

VIDEO: The Citadel drops SoCon opener to ETSU

KEY STATS

  • The game was close for the first 14 minutes as the two teams swapped the lead back and forth 10 times in that span with the largest lead being four, 11-7 by ETSU nearly four minutes in and again when The Citadel took a 32-28 lead with 7:00 left in the opening half.
  •  Freshman Fletcher Abee gave the Bulldogs their first lead 2:30 into the game when he hit his first 3-pointer of the game, and Rice followed that up a few minutes later with a dunk.
  • With 7:02 left in the opening half, Hayden Brown gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game at four, 32-28 with one of his two 3-pointers, but a 5-0 run by the Bucs kept the Bulldogs from extending the lead and continuing the momentum.
  • After Brown retook the lead with a layup a few minutes later, ETSU went on a 14-0 run to open the game up and take the lead back for good.
  • The 'Dogs managed to close the gap a little in the closing minutes of the opening half, but settled for a 10-point, 54-44 deficit at halftime.
  • Out of the intermission, ETSU extended the lead with an 8-2 run in the first four minutes of the second half, and continued to match the Bulldogs from there until the Bucs had built up a 21-point, 73-52 lead when Lucas N'Guessan scored off a layup with 10:43 left in regulation.
  • From there, the Bulldogs slowly ate into the lead, getting the deficit down to 11, 88-77 with 2:00 left to play when Rudy Fitzgibbons, III converted a pair of free throws.
  • After ETSU extended the lead back out to 15, 92-77 off an Isaiah Tisdale three-point play, the Bulldogs used a strong full-court press to cut the lead back to 10, 92-82, highlighted by a Fitzgibbons trey.
  • Despite the late push, the Bulldogs ultimately settled for the 12-point, 96-84 final score.
  • The Citadel opened the game shooting 56.7% (17-of-30) from the field, while the Bucs shot 61.1% (22-of-36) from the field in the opening half.
  • The second half saw both teams cool off a bit with ETSU shooting 48.3% (14-of-29) to finish the game shooting 55.4% from the field, while the Bulldogs shot 42.4% (14-of-33) in the second half to shoot 49.2% for the game.
  • The Bulldogs forced the Bucs to turn the ball over 16 times, including 10 in the second half. In comparison, The Citadel only turned the ball over nine times, but six of those came in the first half.
  • Rice led all players with 30 points off 11-of-16 (.688) shooting from the field. Rice converted a team-high three 3-pointers and also went 5-for-6 (.833) from the free throw line.
  • Senior Kaelon Harris scored 16 points and added six rebounds, while Brown ended his night with 12 points, including a pair of treys.
  • Graduate transfer Tyson Batiste led all players with seven assists to go along with eight points, two rebounds and a pair of steals.
  • Jeromy Rodriguez led ETSU with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Rodriguez had eight boards on each end of the court, and scored 16 of his points in the second half alone.
  • Tray Boyd, III started the game by scoring 23 points off the bench in the first half, but was held in check in the second stanza, scoring just two points.

NOTABLES

  • ETSU entered the game ranked No. 3 by CollegeInsider.com in the Mid-Major Top 25. The Bucs are also seventh in the Mid-Major Madness Top 25 poll.
  • The Bulldogs’ nine turnovers were the fewest since committing nine turnovers at home against UNC Greensboro last season on Feb. 28.
  • Rice’s 30 points set a career high for the junior sharpshooter. He has now scored 550 career points.
  • Rice’s 11 made field goals also set a career high.
  • Rice is the first Bulldog this season to eclipse the 30-point mark, and he is the first to reach the mark since Connor Kern scored 32 last season at home against UNCG.
  • Rice has made at least one 3-pointer in seven straight games.
  • Batiste has reached the seven assist mark four times as he had seven Wednesday night against ETSU.

QUOTABLES FROM COACH BAUCOM “I thought we did a great job against Tray Boyd in the second half, but you can’t let a guy like that get 23 points in the first half. I thought we played well considering we got down. We were up four, then after the injury to Hayden, they went on a 14-2 run and even a timeout couldn’t cure that. I think that was the difference in the game because it was 10 points at halftime. We had just six turnovers in the first half, but they had 14 points off those six turnovers. That was impressive and they couldn’t miss in that stretch. I was really happy with our pressure late, and we had three freshmen on the floor at one point.” COMING UP The Citadel will continue the current four-game homestand this Saturday, Dec. 7 with a 1 p.m. game against NCCAA opponent Carver College. The Citadel Department of Athletics will continue to collect toys for the Marines Toys for Tots Toy Drive. Any fan who brings a new, unwrapped toy to either of the two home games remaining before the Christmas break will receive a $5 ticket to that game.