BLACKSBURG, Va. (Nov. 12, 2011) – Despite trailing by 14 points midway through the second half, the ETSU men’s basketball team rallied to within four points late in the game, but ultimately dropped a hard-fought regular season opener to Virginia Tech 64-53 Saturday afternoon at the Cassell Coliseum.
The Bucs could not overcome a poor shooting effort, as they hit on just 30 percent of their shots from the floor and 12 percent (2-of-17) from the 3-point range. ETSU fell despite holding the Hokies to 39 percent shooting from the floor and 28 percent from beyond the arc.
“We held our own on the glass and committed just 13 turnovers, which are good numbers,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “We just missed a lot of shots from 15 feet and in, and to win on the road and places like this you have to play really well. Tonight we just didn’t play well enough.”
Senior Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) led the Bucs with a game-high 13 points, while junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and senior post Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) pitched in 10 points apiece.
In the first half, ETSU led by as many as seven points at 17-10 with 9:15 left on the clock. The Bucs maintained a lead for 18 minutes of action in the first half, but a major offensive drought to end the half led to trouble for ETSU.
A pair of free throws from Tommy Hubbard (Boston) made it 21-15 with 7:54 left, but from there ETSU would not score again and looked on as the Hokies went on a 9-0 run to finish with a 24-21 advantage at the break.
At the half, ETSU had stayed even in the rebounding category and had committed just three turnovers. However, the Bucs shot just 20 percent from the field and did not have a made 3-point shot. The Bucs did force seven Virginia Tech turnovers and also held the Hokies to just 33 percent shooting from the floor and 10 percent from the 3-point arc.
ETSU opened the second half with a dunk from Brown, who was fouled on the play and then hit the free throw to tie the game at 24-24. The Bucs were still within six points with 14 minutes left in the game, but three straight 3-pointers from Tech’s Robert Brown made it 46-36 with 11:42 remaining
Tech then pulled ahead by as many as 14 points, but the Bucs battled back thanks to 10 points from Sollazzo and a layup by Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) that made it 55-51 with 1:52 left. However, from there Tech made a pair of free throws followed by a turnover by Sollazzo, and two more Hokie free throws made it 59-51 with 1:04 left.
ETSU never threatened again.
The Hokies were led by game-high 13 points from Tyrone Garland, while Brown finished with 12 points and Dorian Finney-Smith added 10.
The Bucs will return to Johnson City and begin the home portion of their schedule Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against former Southern Conference rival Appalachian State inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.