ETSU led 48-32 at halftime by shooting 63 percent. After being down by as many as 19 early in the second half, Western Carolina battled back with an 11-2 run, including five straight points by Elijah Pughsley, to get within 55-45 with about 12 minutes left.
Ge'Lawn Guyn's seventh point of the second half helped rebuild ETSU's lead to 71-52 with five minutes left.
Isaac Banks and Guyn added 10 points apiece for East Tennessee State (7-6).
Western Carolina ousted ETSU from the 2015 Southern Conference tournament after losing 17 straight in the series.