KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec. 23, 2008) - In a coming out party for the redshirt freshman forward, ETSU's Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) posted a career high 18 points and grabbed a team high six rebounds to lift the ETSU men's basketball team to a Christmas victory over Atlantic Sun Conference foe Kennesaw State 76-62 Tuesday inside the KSU Convocation Center.
Along with Brown's personal best offensively - which included six dunks on the night - the Buccaneers got double-digit scoring from three other players, including a game-high 19 points from both junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) and senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), and 15 from senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis).
"We've had a great start to the season and going to 2-0 in conference play is big," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 8-3 overall, 2-0 in A-Sun action. "I can't say enough about the way Isiah played tonight. He really gave us a lift inside, and adding him to the offensive mix along with the Big Three of Kevin, Mike and Courtney is something we like to see."
Early on in the game, ETSU shot well over 50 percent and spent much of the first half building a nine-point lead at 23-14 with just over four minutes left in the half. The Owls then pulled to within three thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman guard Spencer Dixon, but a bucket by senior forward Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) later led to a technical foul on Kennesaw State head coach Tony Ingle and the Bucs blitzed back out to a 28-20 advantage.
KSU battled back to cut the lead to four points on a couple of occasions late in the half, but a three-point play and a 3-point basket by Smith with six seconds left in the half made it 34-26 at the break. The Bucs shot a strong 57 percent from the floor in the first half with Smith leading all scorers by posting 12 points.
In the second half, the Owls hit a pair of 3-pointers to start the final 20 minutes and ultimately hit three straight 3s in the opening minutes to make it 39-35 with 15:54 left in the game. KSU got to within two at 39-37, but from there the Bucs used an 18-8 run to pull ahead by 12 at 57-45 with 7:59 left in regulation.
From there, Brown dunked on three straight possessions and scored eight consecutive points, pushing the advantage to 63-45. The Owls managed an 8-0 run in the final minutes to make it 69-60 with 1:12 left, but the Bucs held on from the foul line and never looked back.
For the game, the Bucs shot 53 percent from the field and forced 19 KSU turnovers on 10 steals. However, the Owls did enjoy a definitive advantage on the glass, out-rebounding ETSU 37-25 and grabbing 20 offensive rebounds to just nine for the Bucs.
For the Owls, Kevin McConnell scored a team-high 18, while Jon-Michael Nickerson and J.D. Pollock pitched in 13 and 12, respectively. KSU also got a game-high 11 rebounds from Zadrian Gibson.
ETSU will return to action over the Christmas break, playing its final non-conference game of the regular season when the Bucs host former Ohio Valley Conference foe Morehead State on Tuesday, Dec. 30 inside the Memorial Center. Tip in Johnson City is set for 7 p.m.