CULLOWHEE, N.C. (Jan. 31, 2004) - The Buccaneers are still perfect.
Junior guard James Anthony (Tampa, Fla.) scored a career-high 23 points and sophomore guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) added 23 as well, leading the East Tennessee State University men's basketball team to a 79-65 victory over Western Carolina in Southern Conference play Saturday night at the Ramsey Activity Center.
With the win, the Buccaneers improved to a perfect 9-0 in SoCon play and moved to 17-4 overall. Meanwhile, Western Carolina dropped to 4-5 in league play, 10-9 overall.
"James really rose to the challenge, both offensively and defensively," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team held Western Carolina guard Kevin Martin - the NCAA's leading scorer - to just 14 points on the night. "James was on (Kevin) Martin most of the night and I think the biggest key tonight was that he only had two free throws.
"Earlier in the year he had 21 points from the foul line. Tonight, James did a great job on him."
Indeed, Martin - who entered the game averaging 27.5 ppg - was held in check most of the night and didn't reach double figures until the 4:01 mark of the second half. He finished the game 6-of-13 from the field and 0-of-3 from 3-point range.
In the first half, Western Carolina grabbed an early lead at 10-6, but the Bucs responded with a quick 7-0 spurt to take a 13-10 advantage with 12:14 left before the intermission. While the Catamounts managed to tie the game at 15-15, ETSU regained the lead thanks in part to a pair of 3-pointers by sophomore guard Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) and Anthony (Tampa, Fla.), spurring a 14-2 Buccaneer run.
While ETSU built its lead to as many as 12 points at 29-17 with 3:15 left in the half, the Catamounts got a 3-pointer from Corey Muirhead and a basket by Alex Osipovitch in the last minute of the half to make it 33-25 at the break.
After the break, the Bucs and Catamounts traded baskets until a six-point run with just over seven minutes left made it 62-56 in favor of ETSU. However, Anthony hit the final of a career-high five 3-pointers at that point to make it 65-56 and give the Bucs the cushion they needed to put the win away.
Along with Anthony and Fields, senior forwards Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) and Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) both scored in double figures, netting 14 and 10 points, respectively. Anthony finished 7-of-9 from the field, 5-of-6 from 3-point range and 4-of-5 from the foul line.
For Western Carolina, Martin and guard Emre Atsur both scored 14 points, while post David Berghoefer netted 10 points.
ETSU will return to play Monday night at Memorial Center, facing North Division rival UNC Greensboro at 7 p.m. Western Carolina also returns to action Monday night, hosting Piedmont.