JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The 72 hours after The Citadel's loss to VMI on Saturday were not fun for anybody connected with Bulldogs' basketball.
Losing for a second time to the last place team in the Southern Conference will have that effect.
Citadel coach Duggar Baucom had his team up early for a 6 a.m workout on Sunday, and stewed on the bus Monday during the five-hour drive to East Tennessee State. He was still steaming before tip-off Tuesday night at ETSU.
“Nobody was happy after the VMI game,” Baucom said. “I wasn't happy before this game, that's how long it lasted.”
Baucom and his Bulldogs had plenty to smile about after the game. Zane Najdawi scored 24 points, including a clutch 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, and The Citadel pulled off the upset of the SoCon season with an 84-82 victory over SoCon-leader ETSU before 4,911 fans at Freedom Hall.
The Citadel (10-18, 5-11) snapped a four-game skid and handed ETSU (23-6, 14-2) just its second SoCon loss of the season. The Bulldogs now have wins over the first, third, fourth and fifth-place teams in the SoCon.
“It's a crazy, crazy game and a crazy profession I'm in,” Baucom said on his post-game radio show. “And it says something about the resiliency of these kids.
“I'm very happy for my guys, because I have been in them a little bit in the past 72 hours. And they have responded.”
ETSU was without SoCon player of the year candidate Desonta Bradford, out with injury, but led by as many as 11 in the first half.
But Citadel guard Frankie Johnson hit a long 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to get the Bulldogs within 46-42, and give the team some momentum.
Johnson scored 12 points with seven rebounds and seven assists, and junior Quayson Williams added 17 on 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Kaelon Harris had 13 points and nine rebounds.
ETSU made just 8 of 27 from 3-point range, almost as poorly as it shot (2 of 23) in a narrow 73-71 win at The Citadel last month. Bo Hodges led the Bucs with 17 points.
"Probably the most disappointing loss of my ETSU career," Bucs coach Steve Forbes told reporters. "When a team comes in your building and makes 13 3-pointers, goes to the line 23 times and has 12 offensive rebounds, you're going to have trouble winning."
The Citadel led by eight with 12:49 left, but ETSU rallied to tie the game at 76-76 on a David Burrell dunk with one minute left.
Najdawi took a pass from Johnson and swished a 3-pointer, his third of the game, for a 79-76 lead with 34 seconds left. Johnson made two free throws with 17 seconds left and two more with nine seconds remaining for an 83-77 lead, and Harris made one free throw at :05 for 84-79.
“The kids had fire in their eyes the whole night,” Baucom said. “Not one time did I look at them during a timeout and get a blank stare. And we got some of those against VMI.”
The Citadel plays its final home game of the season at 6 p.m. against Mercer.