JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 12, 2009) - Despite overcoming an 18-point second half deficit and actually taking the lead late in the game, the ETSU men's basketball team could not get a basket when it counted in the final two minutes, dropping its first game at home this season in a 61-57 loss to Murray State Saturday afternoon at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
The Buccaneers suffered through their worst offensive first half of the season and trailed 36-20 at the break. However, ETSU outscored Murray State - the preseason favorite in the Ohio Valley Conference - by a 37-25 clip in the second half and had a chance at the end.
"I was really proud of our team's fight in the second half," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team dropped to 5-6 on the young season. "We could have folded after how poorly we played in the first half, but we didn't. I thought some of our guys really battled out there and helped us in the second half."
Those players included Micah Williams, who finished with a game-high 18 points, while freshman guard Bruce Grimm (Rochester, Ind.) came off the bench to score 11 points and dish out three assists in the second half. Meanwhile, Murry State got a double-double effort from Ivan Aska with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Danero Thomas added 12 for the Racers as they improved to an impressive 8-1 on the season.
In the first half, the Bucs struggled out of the gate and never led. In fact, after pulling to within eight points a 19-11 with just over 10 minutes to go before the intermission, the Bucs looked on as the Racers outscored them 17-9 the rest of the way.
However, after Murray State scored the first basket of the second half on a layup by Aska, ETSU pulled to within 15 points at 42-27 over the next six minutes, and then went on a 18-11 run that made it 51-45 with five minutes left in the game.
After making a basket but then missing six straight foul shots, Murray State looked to be in trouble as the Bucs used a 9-0 spurt powered by a Jarvis Jones (Memphis) 3-pointer, as well as a steal and layup from sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), to make it 54-53 in favor of the Bucs with 2:06 left in the game. However, that would be ETSU's only lead of the contest, as Murray State answered by outscoring the Bucs 8-3 the rest of the way.
The Bucs were outrebounded by the Racers 38-28, and committed 20 turnovers. However, the Bucs forced 23 turnovers by Murray State. ETSU shot just 38 percent from the floor, while the Racers hit on 45 percent of their shots from the floor.
ETSU will now take a week long break for final exams, returning to play on the road Dec. 18 at Morehead State. For more on the Buccaneers throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.