JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 16, 2012) – ETSU senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) scored 19 second-half points, including a go-ahead free throw with 2.4 seconds left to lift the ETSU men’s basketball team to a 64-63 win over North Florida in Atlantic Sun Conference men’s basketball action Monday evening inside the UNF Arena.
The Buccaneers, who trailed by 15 points in the first half and only shot 31 percent from the field before halftime, connected on 68 percent of its shots in the second half and outscored the Ospreys 23-7 at one point to rally for the win. With the victory, ETSU improves to 10-7 overall, 5-2 in A-Sun action, while UNF drops to 9-11, 3-4.
The victory also marked win No. 1,200 all-time for the ETSU’s men’s basketball program.
“This is a great win for our team because North Florida is awfully tough to beat in this building,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team has now won five straight games. “I’m really proud of our seniors. Adam was really big for us in the second half, and we had other players make important plays for us down the stretch. We’re ready to get back home and prepare for Lipscomb.”
The Bucs picked up the victory despite the fact UNF’s Matt Sauey tossed a perfect inbounds pass the length of the court with 1.7 seconds left and found forward Travis Wallace under the basket. Wallace’s shot with less than one second left missed the mark as he fired up a shot over Sollazzo.
In the first half, ETSU led 10-9 before the Ospreys went on a 21-5 run powered in part by five 3-pointers. After the smoke cleared, the Bucs trailed 30-15 with just under four minutes left before the break. The Bucs managed to regroup to some degree and outscored UNF 8-4 to close out the half and trailed 34-23 at the break.
By halftime, the Ospreys had shot 44 percent from the field and an impressive 50 percent from 3-point range. Meanwhile, ETSU hit on just 31 percent of its shots in the first half and was 0-for-5 outside the arc. In addition, the Ospreys managed to handle ETSU’s defensive pressure and committed just five turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.
It was a different offensive story for the Bucs in the second half, as the team shot 68 percent from the floor. After going 1-for-7 in the first half, Sollazzo connected on 9-of-11 shots from the field to net a game-high 21 points.
The result was a rally that brought the Bucs back from an 11-point deficit, thanks mainly to a 21-7 run that was capped by a 3-pointer from junior guard Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) to make it 53-50 with 6:06 left in the game. It was ETSU’s first lead since early in the first half.
From there, UNF managed to tie the game at 61-61 and 63-63, but ETSU outlasted the Ospreys thanks to a pair of free throws from senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami) with 49 seconds left, and Sollazzo’s game-winning free throw with 2.4 seconds left.
Along with Sollazzo, ETSU got a 15-point effort from Brown, 12 points from Dubose, and 11 points from junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa). For UNF, Jerron Granberry led the way with 14 points, while Parker Smith netted 12, and both Andy Diaz and Travis Wallace added 11 points each.
ETSU returns to Johnson City and will take on Lipscomb Saturday, with tip set for 4 p.m. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.