JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 21, 2004) - After relinquishing a nine-point lead late in the second half Wednesday night against Davidson, the East Tennessee State men's basketball team took a 66-66 game and outscored the Wildcats 9-4 the rest of the way to garner a hard-fought 75-70 Southern Conference victory at Memorial Center.
Senior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) led the way for the Bucs, hitting a career-high four 3-point goals and collecting a game-high 25 points. With the win, the Buccaneers made school history, improving to 6-0 in league play for the first time ever. Overall, ETSU improved to 14-4 overall, while Davidson dropped to 7-10 overall, 2-4 SoCon.
"That was another tough game and we're fortunate it went our way," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "We're lucky to have the players we have because they know how to make plays. Even though we're thrilled to be 6-0, we've got a lot of areas we can be better at."
While ETSU led 37-35 at halftime, the two longtime conference rivals traded baskets much of the evening until the Bucs began an offensive run at the 12:57 mark of the second half. A basket by Wadood began the run and two free throws by sophomore guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) ended it, as the Bucs outscored Davidson 16-5 to take a 66-57 lead with 8:17 left in the game.
However, Davidson was not interested in folding, as the Wildcats' defense clamped down and held ETSU scorelss over the next six minutes. In that span, Davidson's offense scored 11 straight to take a 68-66 lead with 2:07 left in the game.
From there, the Bucs' offense got a spark thanks mainly to a steal by sophomore guard Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) and a perfect pass from Rhoda to a streaking Wadood to make it 69-68 in favor of ETSU. Four free throws by Smith and two more by Wadood iced the game from the line and gave ETSU the 75-70 victory.
Along with Wadood, senior forward Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) netted his 11th career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Smith and junior guard James Anthony (Tampa, Fla.) also reached double figures, scoring 17 and 10 points, respectively.
For Davidson, Matt McKillop netted a team-high 19 points - 16 of which came in the first half - while teammates Brendan Winters and Logan Kosmalski added 14 and 13 points, respectively. Kosmalski garnered a double-double thanks to 10 rebounds.
ETSU moves on in conference play Saturday, when it travels to Appalachian State for a 1 p.m. meeting with the nearby Mountaineers. Davidson also returns to conference play, hosting Elon.