JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 7, 2009) - Well aware that they were facing one of only two teams to beat them in Atlantic Sun Conference play this season, the ETSU Buccaneers produced their best offensive game of the season and rolled to a 102-78 win over Florida Gulf Coast Saturday afternoon in front of 4,045 fans at Memorial Center.
The win avenged a 64-61 loss to the Eagles earlier this season, and moved the Bucs to 17-6 overall, 11-2 in A-Sun play. With Jacksonville's 72-71 loss to Mercer earlier in the day, ETSU now holds sole possession of first place in the conference standings.
"We've talked all year about the Big Three and when they are on how we can score points - and tonight we saw that," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "I thought we had a great week of practice and that led to this. It's a good win for us especially after not playing well against them down there."
ETSU's "Big Three" - seniors Courtney Pigram (Memphis) and Kevin Tiggs (Memphis), and junior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) - were certainly on their game in this contest. Smith collected his third straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Tiggs posted a game high 29 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Pigram finished with 27 points, moving his career scoring clip to 1,874 and overtaking former ETSU great Calvin Talford for fourth place on the all-time scoring list.
The first half did not start out in a good way for the Buccanners, as the Eagles used some pinpoint 3-point shooting to shred the ETSU man-to-man defense and build a 23-15 lead with 13 minutes left in the half. However, from there the Bucs changed to a 2-3 zone and clamped down defensively, allowing just one field goal over the next six minutes and kicking up the offense on a 21-4 run that ended with the Bucs holding a 36-27 advantage.
ETSU didn't let up at that point, outscoring FGCU 16-8 the rest of the half to post its best offensive first half of the year and lead 52-35 at the break. In the first 20 minutes, the Bucs shot 57 percent from the field and were 58 percent from 3-point range, while holding the Eagles to just 27 percent shooting. The Bucs outrebounded FGCU 24-18 in the first half.
The second half was more of the same for the Bucs, as ETSU posted another 50 points in 20 minutes of play and shot 48 percent from the field. Ultimately, the Bucs out-rebounded FGCU 47-38 and forced 17 turnovers by the Eagles. ETSU shot 52 percent from the field and an impressive 50 percent from 3-point range in the victory.
For FGCU, Reed Baker and Reggie Chambers had 18 points apiece, while Derrik O'Neil added 10.
ETSU will return to action Monday night at 7 p.m., hosting A-Sun foe Stetson in Memorial Center. For more on ETSU men's basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.