Patrick Good had an out-of-body experience Saturday and it lifted East Tennessee State to a 68-67 victory over Western Carolina that clinched the outright Southern Conference regular-season men’s basketball championship.
Good scorched the nets at Freedom Hall, scoring 17 of his 26 points in the final four minutes, and ETSU clawed back from a double-digit deficit.
“We found a way to win and we had a supernatural performance by Patrick Good,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “I don’t know if you could script it better than that. I have no expert analysis for that. We drew up a couple plays, but he just broke off and made buckets.”
ETSU (27-4, 16-2) broke the school record for regular-season victories and finished one game up on Furman in the SoCon standings.
“The kids just laid their guts out,” Forbes said. “A great team finds a way to win it and they did it.”
After Good’s final dagger, his seventh 3- pointer, put ETSU up 68-67 with seven seconds left, Western Carolina had one more chance. Isaiah Tisdale blocked Travion McCray’s shot and Bo Hodges tipped the loose ball.
It fittingly wound up in the hands of Good, who set off a wild celebration by running the length of the court, trying to stay a step ahead of his teammates who were about to bury him in a heap of celebration.
“That was something I always envisioned,” Good said. “If I ever got a chance to do that, I was going to run around the court so they can’t catch me and I felt like I was good for a little bit and they finally caught me.”
The sellout crowd of 6,177 roared its appreciation as Good, tears in his eyes, climbed onto the sideline table and soaked in the atmosphere.
“I didn’t know how to react in that situation,” Good said. “I guess I should have shook their hands, but you get in the moment and you want to embrace it.”
Good, a hometown hero who grew up in Johnson City, started his spree with 4:16 left and Western Carolina ahead 57-47. He wound up with 15 of the Bucs’ final 17 points.
“That’s nothing new to me,” ETSU guard Tray Boyd III said as the team cut down the nets. “But that was the first time I’ve seen Pat just tell us we’re going to win this game on him. He put all of us on his back and he carried us to the finish line. I love him forever. This is a moment I’ll never forget. We’re champs.”
Good, a junior guard, had been in a slump for a big part of the season and the way he started Saturday’s game gave no indication of the heroics ahead. He missed his first three shots and was 1-for- 6 before he heated up.
“It’s been a while … you know the stretch I went through,” said Good, who was 1-of-20 shooting at one point this season.
He finished 7-for-14 from 3-point range on Saturday.
“It felt great to be able to do that,” he said. “Somebody had to keep scoring. We didn’t do that coming back for nothing.”
Boyd finished with 13 points and Hodges had 10.
McCray led Western Carolina (18-11, 10-8) with 13 points.
The Bucs were saddled by foul trouble all day. Tisdale picked up his third foul 37 seconds into the second half. Hodges was called for his third 16 seconds later.
They finished the game with center Lucas N’Guessan having fouled out and two other starters with four fouls.
Before the game, ETSU honored five seniors: Boyd, Tisdale, N’Guessan, Jeromy Rodriguez and Joe Hugley.
The top-seeded Bucs will face either VMI or Samford in the semifinals of the conference tournament Saturday at noon. Western Carolina, seeded fifth, will face fourth-seeded Mercer.
The tournament is being played at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina.