FRESNO, Ca. (Feb. 21, 2004) -- Up by two points with just 48 seconds remaining, East Tennessee State missed the front end on consecutive free-throw attempts. But the Bucs grabbed offensive rebounds each time, and sophomore point guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) hit two from the line with seven seconds left to give ETSU a 66-62 victory over Fresno State in ESPN's Bracket Busters Saturday.
With the victory, East Tennessee State wins its 15th consecutive game and runs its record to 23-4. Fresno State falls to 12-12 on the season.
The Bucs stormed out to an early 10-0 lead to begin the game, led by six early points by senior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.). But the Bulldogs would chip away at the Buccaneer lead, eventually taking a 17-15 lead of their own with 8:34 remaining after going on an 11-0 run.
ETSU finished the first half in dynamic fashion, going on a 13-2 run to go into the locker room with a 36-25 advantage. That run was fueled by Smith, who scored six points in just over a minute during the run.
At the beginning of the second half, the Bucs immediately ran their lead to 15 at 43-28. But the Bucs' lead began to melt away again, as Fresno State shot 50 percent (12-24) fro the floor and hit 4-of-7 three pointers in the second half.
The Bullgods tied the score at 49 and again at 51, but ETSU would not allow them to gain the advantage, running their lead back up to six, 63-57, with 1:50 remaining in the game. It was from there that the Bucs missed some key free throws, in the end, came through in the end.
Smith led the Bucs with a game-high 26 points on 10-18 from the floor. He also added a team-high five assists on the afternoon.
Wadood and fellow senior forward Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) each tallied double-doubles, Wadood with 13 points and 11 rebounds and Fields scoring 13 points and pulling down 13 boards. Wadood also had four assists while Fields led the bucs with four steals.
Fresno State had five players score in double-figures, led by Shantay Legans and Marcus West with 13 points each. Guard Dreike Bouldin led the Bulldogs with 10 rebounds while Legans dished out a game-high 10 assists.
East Tennessee State returns to action on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. from Memorial Center as the Bucs face in-state rival Chattanooga. The game will be televised regionally on Fox Sports South. For ticket information, call the Buccaneer ticket office at 423-439-5371.