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As The Citadel's bench shrinks, losing streak grows to 13 straight at ETSU

Derek Webster

The Citadel's Derek Webster works against ETSU 7-footer Lucas N'Guessan on Wednesday. Provided/Citadel Athletics 

At this rate, Citadel basketball coach Duggar Baucom will be able to pack his traveling party into a van and leave the bus at home.

With four players sidelined by injury, a fifth left behind in Charleston and a sixth who left the team last week, the Bulldogs were down to seven scholarship players for Wednesday night's game at Southern Conference leader East Tennessee State.

Predictably, ETSU pulled away down the stretch for a 91-67 victory at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tenn., sending the Bulldogs to their 13th straight loss.

Daivien Williamson scored 19 points to lead the Bucs, who at 22-4 overall and 11-2 in the SoCon are earning some discussion for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Seven-footer Lucas N'Guessan had 12 points and nine rebounds as five Bucs scored in double figures.

Freshman Fletcher Abee scored 16 points for the Bulldogs, who at 6-18 and 0-13 are suffering through their longest losing skid since the 2013-14 team dropped 17 in a row.

"I've been doing this a long time, and I've never been down to seven players before," Baucom said on his post-game radio show. "And I've never seen heart like these kids have. That's a great feeling as a coach, with literally all the odds stacked against them." 

The Bulldogs' list of unavailable players grew again to include reserve forward Alex Reed, who did not make the trip to ETSU. Brady Spence, Hayden Brown, Jackson Gammons and Jerry Higgins are sidelined by injury, and graduate transfer Eddie Davis left the team last week.

And on top of that, junior guard Kaiden Rice played against ETSU despite being under the weather.

The Citadel actually executed decently on offense, shooting 49 percent from the floor and making 10 of 24 from 3-point range. Kaelon Harris scored 14 points and Tyson Batiste added 10. 

"I'm proud of the guys, they fought and fought," Baucom said. "(ETSU) got into us a little bit and we had some possessions go sideways. We probably ran out of a little bit of gas, but were still pretty efficient against probably the best defensive team in the league. All seven of our guys contributed, and the minutes they played were crazy."

Seven Bulldogs played at least 24 minutes each, topped by Abee with 34 minutes. He scored his 16 points on just nine shots, hitting 3 of 6 from 3-point range and making all three of his free throws.

"There's not a freshman in the league playing at as high a level as he is," Baucom said. "He's the focal point of other teams, and he has to earn everything he gets."

The Citadel was no match inside for the Bucs, who outscored the Bulldogs by 21-0 on second-chance points and by 46-20 in the paint. The Citadel had just one offensive rebound to 11 for the Bucs.

A 12-0 run late in the game broke it open and boosted ETSU's lead to 28 points at 91-63.

The Citadel cut an early nine-point gap to one at 26-25 on a four-point play by Abee with 7:58 left in the first half. But the Bucs scored five straight points down the stretch and led by 38-32 at the break.

The Bulldogs are home against Samford at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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