JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 28, 2009) - Senior Courtney Pigram (Memphis) set a new ETSU single-game record for 3-pointers on his way to a game high 38 points and fellow senior Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) pitched in 24 points as the Buccaneers made Senior Day a memorable one with a 103-81 win over Mercer in front of 4,609 fans Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Center.
Pigram hit a record 10 3-pointers in the game - with the record-setting shot coming with 6:49 left in regulation - as he moved to 1,972 points for his career. With the win, ETSU (20-10 overall, 14-6 A-Sun) earned the No. 2 seed in next week's Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament and will open that event in the 9:30 p.m. (EST) game Wednesday night against Stetson inside Lipscomb's Allen Arena.
"I had a hot hand early and it felt good to play like that today," said Pigram, who finished just one point shy of his career high. "The two seed is not the one, but the two isn't bad. Now we just got to keep in this good form next week in Nashville."
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow pointed out his appreciation of the efforts given by each of the team's three seniors, which included senior Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.).
"Those guys have won a lot of games for us, and each one has been unique and brought certain things to our program," said Bartow, whose team also gave the coach his third 20-win season in six campaigns at ETSU. "Our players really wanted to send those guys out with a win and they did that."
Senior Day got off to a great start for Pigram and Tiggs, as the duo combined for 41 of the Buccaneers 59 first-half points. Powered by the swarming "black" fullcourt press, the offensive surge was impressive, especially from the 9:11 mark on, when ETSU took a 27-23 game and went on a 32-11 run to close out the half. The Bucs did not allow a Mercer field goal for the final 8:29 of the half.
Pigram finished with remarkable numbers in the half, going 7-of-12 from 3-point range and 9-of-16 from the field for 25 points in the half, while Tiggs tossed in 16. In the half, ETSU shot 58 percent from the field and was 53 percent from 3-point range, while holding Mercer to 39 percent from the floor and forcing 11 turnovers.
The Bucs kept the pressure on in the second half, moving their advantage out to 30 points at 69-39 with 16 minutes left, but Mercer showed some fight at that point, putting together a 16-2 run of its own to cut the ETSU advantage to 71-55 with just over 12 minutes left.
ETSU kept the Bears at bay from there on out, pulling away again and finishing with a 22-point margin. For the game, the Bucs outrebounded Mercer 41-35 and forced 24 turnovers on 13 steals. The Bucs also dished out 15 assists, while shooting 50 percent from the field, 41 percent from the 3-point line and 85 percent from the foul line.
With the loss, Mercer (17-14, 11-9) finished with the No. 6 seed in the tournament.
Junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) joined Pigram and Tiggs in double figures with 17 points, while Mercer got a team high 27 from James Florence, 15 from Daniel Emerson and 13 from Michael Ellis.
Along with his new ETSU record, Pigram's 23 attempts from 3-point range set a new A-Sun single-game record, and it matched the mark for most in a single game this season in NCAA action. His 10 makes game up one shy of the conference record of 11, as well as one shy of the most makes in a single game this year in NCAA action.
For more on the Buccaneers as they prepare for the A-Sun Tournament, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.