JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 10, 2009) - Junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) scored a career high 22 points and posted his first career double-double thanks to a 10-rebound effort, but more importantly it was his rebound and put back with six seconds left that sealed ETSU's unexpectedly tough 75-71 win over North Georgia Thursday night inside Brooks Gym.
Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 2,972 fans as part of a special "Back to Brooks" game, the Buccaneers wore special retro uniforms based after the 1968 squad. However, there was nothing special about the performance, as the Division II Saints overcame a 67-53 deficit in the final 2:56 to make it a two-point game at 73-71 with just 10 seconds left.
Williams was fouled and went to the line at that point, but missed both foul shots. However, even though ETSU had no players on the lane, Williams managed to weave his way through the Saints to grab the rebound and score a layup as time ran down.
"Micah's play at the end was just huge … huge," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 5-5 on the year and must now move its attention to a 4 p.m. meeting with Ohio Valley Conference favorite Murray State on Saturday. "We were obviously very fortunate to win this game. When it was a 14-point game we felt good about the position we were in, but we didn't handle the last two minutes well at all. We haven't played well the last two games and that concerns me."
Along with Williams' double-double, junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) posted his sixth double-double of the year with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) pitched in 16 in the winning effort. For North Georgia, Bernard Rimmer and Carl Taylor both had a team-high 15 points, while Andrew Bennett scored 14 and Pat Moynihan added 10.
The Saints stayed in it throughout and led for much of the first half, even holding an advantage of as many as seven points at 27-20 with 6:18 left before the intermission. Yet the Bucs rallied with a 8-2 offensive run in the final minutes of the half to lead 33-31 at the break.
North Georgia again stayed close in the second half until Taylor left the game with a mouth injury. ETSU took advantage of his absence to build their lead to 14. However, the Saints fullcourt pressure led to multiple ETSU turnovers and easy baskets, and despite a technical foul call on North Georgia's Keldrick Coleman that helped the Bucs go up 72-63 with 52 seconds, North Georgia still battled back to make it 73-71 thanks to a pair of and-one baskets by Tyler Norman and Coleman.
The Bucs committed 21 turnovers on the night and only won the rebound battle, 38-35. Meanwhile, North Georgia shot 42 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc. ETSU hit on only 20 percent from 3-point range, while the Saints outscored the Bucs 34-32 in the paint.
ETSU will now turn its attention to Murray State at 4 p.m. on Saturday, back in the comfortable confines of Memorial Center. For more on ETSU men's basketball throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.