JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2010) - Building a 19-point lead with only seven minutes left in the game, the ETSU men's basketball team watched the Jacksonville Dolphins battle back to pull to within one point with less than a minute remaining. However, JU's Ben Smith missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to give ETSU a 64-62 victory in Atlantic Sun Conference action Saturday afternoon at the Veterans Memorial Arena.
Jacksonville fell on its home floor despite outscoring the Bucs 22-5 over the final seven minutes of the game. The Bucs (17-15 overall, 13-7 A-Sun) got a double-double from sophomore forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), who scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) added 15 points and junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) netted 12.
The Dolphins dropped to 18-11, 14-6 in A-Sun action.
"It's a great win," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "If you would have told me we could have a one-point win, I would have taken it. For our guys to do this against a team that was playing for the league title - and on their senior day - that's special.
"Now, that last seven minutes won't be sent to the National Basketball Hall of Fame. We just got too conservative offensively at the end, and we need to handle that better. But I will say this, holding them to 38 percent shooting and just 62 points on their home floor is phenomenal for our defense."
In the first half, the forward trio of Brown, Hubbard and sophomore J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.) powered the ETSU offense, scoring 25 of ETSU's 37 first-half points and out-rebounding the Dolphins 23-16. Perhaps more importantly, after JU's Lehmon Colbert scored the Dolphins' first six points, Ward was asked to defend the Dolphins' big man and Colbert scored just two points the rest of the half.
The key run for the Bucs came late in the first half as ETSU took a 23-19 game with 7:47 left and went on a 14-5 run to close out the first 20 minutes with a 37-24 lead. In the first half, the Bucs shot 73 percent from the foul line (11-of-15), enjoyed a 20-10 edge scoring in the paint, and held an 11-5 lead in second chance points.
ETSU opened the second half with a deep 3-pointer from Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) to make it a 16-point game at 40-24 with 19:23 left, but over the next six minutes JU was able to cut the lead to seven at 42-35 with 13:29 remaining. However, at that point, Williams netted 10 of the Bucs' next 12 points to power a 12-0 offensive run and give ETSU its largest advantage of
the game at 54-35 with 10:59 left.
The ETSU advantage got to 19 at 59-40 with 7:45 remaining in the game, but JU responded with a 22-4 run over the next seven minutes to make it 61-60 with 45 seconds left. During that span, the Dolphins got 17 points from senior guard Ben Smith, which included an amazing four 3-pointers.
At that point, however, a missed 3-pointer by Tubbs with 10 seconds left was rebounded by Williams, who was fouled by JU's Travis Cohn. With 8.2 seconds left, Williams hit one of two foul shots to make it 64-62, but Smith's 3-pointer then missed as time expired.
The Bucs held JU to 38 percent shooting, and forced 13 turnovers by the Dolphins. ETSU shot 42 percent from the floor, and a strong 70 percent from the foul line (19-of-27), out-rebounding JU 41-34 on the boards.
ETSU will now wait out the rest of the day's A-Sun action to see who its opponent will be at the league tournament next week in Macon, Ga., at Mercer University.
For more on ETSU men's basketball the rest of the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.