PEORIA, Ill. (Nov. 29, 2008) - Having watched Bradley struggle from beyond the 3-point arc much of the season, the ETSU men's basketball team hoped for the same when it faced the Braves Saturday night. However, things didn't work out as planned.
Bradley - which entered the game making just 27 percent of its 3-pointers - hit a season high 13 shots from beyond the arc for a stout 54 percent from the outside - and a Buccaneer rally in the second half would come too little too late as the Missouri Valley Conference's Braves upended the Bucs 82-69 inside Carver Arena. With the loss, ETSU drops to 3-3, while Bradley improved to 4-2.
"Bradley had not shot well from outside all season - tonight they did," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "They shot the ball well and we didn't respond offensively. Getting behind early was not ideal obviously, and we were battling uphill all night. I was proud of our team's fight late in the game. We could have easily lost by 30 but we managed to cut it to nine, and if one or two more shots go we had a shot to win."
Senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) led all scorers with 27 points, scoring 22 of those points in the second half and during a late rally that the cut lead to nine at 75-66 with 2:21 left in the game. Senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) finished with 15 points and was the only other ETSU player in double figures.
Bradley had four players reach double figures, led by a team-high 17 from Dodie Dunson, while Chris Roberts added 16, Theron Wilson scored 12, and Eddren McCain added 10. As a team Bradley had 20 assists, including a game-high eight from guard Sam Maniscalco.
The first half had a nightmarish start for the Bucs, as the Braves - whose previous season high for threes in a game was seven - hit their first five 3-point attempts and rolled out to a 17-2 lead at the 13:59 mark. Tiggs then single-handedly stopped the bleeding, scoring seven straight to make it 19-9 with 11:34 left, and the Bucs then pulled to within seven at 25-18 with 7:35 left before the half, thanks to five points from Pigram and a dunk by junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.).
However, the Braves' high percentage shooting didn't stop and the Bucs couldn't maintain the momentum as Bradley outscored ETSU 19-7 the rest of the way to lead 44-25 at the break. ETSU suffered its worst offensive half of the season, scoring just 25 points on 33 percent shooting from the floor, while Bradley blitzed the nets to the tune of 62 percent from the field and an even more amazing 62 percent from beyond the arc.
In the second half, Bradley built their lead above 20 several times, but trailing 67-47 with 8:09 left, Pigram caught fire and scored 13 of the next 15 for the Bucs, powering a 19-8 run that made it 75-66 with 3:19 left on the clock. However, from there some untimely ETSU fouls and solid free throw shooting by Bradley sealed ETSU's fate.
The Bucs actually had one more made field goal than the Braves, but Bradley hit 13 threes to just six for ETSU. The teams were even 28-28 on the boards and the Bucs had just 12 turnovers to 20 for Bradley. However, the Bucs managed just 10 assists to 20 for the opposition.
The Bucs will return to action Tuesday evening on the road once again, facing Conference USA foe Marshall in Huntington, W.Va. Game time inside Cam Henderson Center is set for 7:30 p.m.