Johnson City, Tenn. (Jan. 2, 2002) - East Tennessee State, playing its first game since Dec. 22, overcame a sluggish early start against Appalachian State, coming up with a 75-66 win in the Southern Conference men's basketball opener for both schools. Sophomore Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) recorded his second straight double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bucs to the win, its 16th straight at home.
East Tennessee State (8-4, 1-0 SoCon) looked a bit rusty in the first 10 minutes of the game and Appalachian State (4-7, 0-1 SoCon) took advantage. Josh Shehan scored four of the Mountaineers first seven points as ASU raced out to an 8-1 lead five minutes into the game.
Trailing 13-6, East Tennessee State went on a 6-0 run to get back into the game on baskets by Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.), Michael Tolliver (Bremo Bluff, Va.) and Ryan Lawson (Rogersville, Tenn.). The Bucs then took their first lead of the game at 16-15 on a pair of free throws from Lawson with 8:06 to play in the half.
The lead changed hands four times in the next five minutes, but ETSU managed to eek out a four-point edge on a trey by Lawson, who scored seven in the first half, with 2:48 to play. Appalachian State cut the lead back to one on two free throws by Shawn Hall, but Dimeco Childress (Columbia, Tenn.) hit a layup off a nice cross-court feed from James Anthony (Brandon, Fla.) to give the Bucs a 33-30 lead at the half.
Fields hit a three-point shot to start the second half for the Bucs, but the Mountaineers stayed with ETSU, trailing by only three points with 16:15 to play. Appalachian State then went cold, going scoreless for almost the next six minutes. ETSU took advantage, outscoring ASU 10-0 over the span, taking a 52-39 lead on a Wadood three-pointer with 10:48 to play.
Appalachian State cut the lead back down to two points on a three-point shot from Jonathan Butler with 5:35 to play. ETSU answered the shot with a 10-1 run that ended with a steal by Lawson and a dunk by Childress that slammed the door on the Mountaineers, putting ETSU up 70-59 with 46 ticks left on the clock.
Wadood led three ETSU starters in double figures with his 19 points. Fields matched his season best with 15 points, while Lawson added 11 for the Bucs to go with a team-high five assists. Overall the Bucs outshot ASU 43.1 to 40 percent. The rebounding war was a draw, with each team pulling down 39 boards.
Appalachian State was led by Donald Payne, who also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
East Tennessee State will play its next two conference games on the road, taking on The Citadel on Jan. 5 at 1:00 p.m. and then the College of Charleston on Jan. 7 at 7:00 p.m.