Mostella leads Vols past ETSU, 72-68
A career-high 25 points from Detrick Mostella led Tennessee to its first true road win of the season, a 72-68 victory over ETSU.
JOHNSON CITY (UTSports.com) -- A career-high 25 points from Detrick Mostella led Tennessee to its first true road win of the season, a 72-68 victory over ETSU on Thursday night.
A tight one throughout, the Vols (7-5) and Buccaneers (9-3) battled through nine ties and 12 lead changes. Tennessee took its largest lead of the game at the halftime break, leading 32-23 after Mostella reeled of 13 straight points over the final 2:33 of the first half.
Playing in front of a sell-out crowd at Freedom Hall, ETSU responded quickly after intermission. The Bucs hit five of their first six shot attempts, leveling the score at 36-36 before the half's first media timeout. Tennessee was able to stave off the push from the home team, responding with layups from Kwe Parker and Lew Evans to push the lead back to two possessions. That advantage would grow to as many as seven when Mostella hit yet another jumper to situate things at 51-44 near the 12-minute mark.
Refusing to go away, ETSU scored 11 of the game's next 15 points and took its first lead of the second half at 55-54 with nine minutes remaining.
The lead teeter-tottered from there, with neither side gaining more than a two-point advantage until Mostella broke a 65-65 deadlock with two free throws and then a pull-up jumper with 29 seconds to play. Mostella's final points, coupled with some strong defensive possessions down the stretch for the Vols, proved enough to settle the in-state battle.
WILLIAMS' BLOCK PARTY: Tennessee's Grant Williams entered Thursday's game as the Vols' top shot blocker and will retain that title headed into SEC play after recording a game-high four rejections against ETSU. Williams' four blocks matched his previously established season-high, which also came on the road at North Carolina on Dec. 11.
Each of Williams' blocks came in the second half, including one swat near the 1:30 mark with the score tied at 65-65. That block led to Detrick Mostella's go-ahead free throws on the other end.
Tennessee had nine blocks as a team on Thursday night, its most in a game this season.
MOSTELLA HEATING UP: Following Thursday night's 25-point outburst, guard Detrick Mostella will head into the short Christmas break averaging 17.7 ppg over his last three outings. In the four games prior, the junior was averaging just 3.0 ppg and was struggling from the field at 3-for-20 (.150) in that span. Over his current three-game stretch, Mostella is 18-of-39 (.462) from the field and 8-of-21 (.381) from beyond the arc.
UP NEXT: Tennessee is off for a one-week holiday break and will return to action on Thursday, Dec. 29, when it opens Southeastern Conference play at Texas A&M (7 p.m. ET, SEC Network).