JOHNSON CITY (Feb. 23, 2012) – Placing three players in double figures and holding Stetson’s high-powered offense to just 56 points, the ETSU men’s basketball team picked up its second straight win and cruised to a 72-56 victory over the Hatters Thursday evening in Atlantic Sun Conference play at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
Senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Buccaneers’ offensive attack, while senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa, Fla.) and junior guard Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) pitched in 19 and 15 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Bucs’ defense held Stetson to 39 percent shooting and forced 13 Hatter turnovers.
“We have obviously had some distractions the last day or two, so for us to focus and get this win was big,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “A lot of guys stepped up and played great tonight. Missing two of our best four players was a lot to overcome.”
The distractions were obvious, and the absence of those players did not go unnoticed. The Buccaneers, who improved to 15-13 overall, 9-8 in A-Sun action, were without the services of senior guard Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa).
Hubbard sat out for precautionary reasons after hitting his head during a fall in the win over Lipscomb Monday night, while Cooley is now suspended indefinitely from the team following his arrest Thursday for filing a false police report. Cooley, who was not at the scene of an especially aggravated burglary that occurred inside his residence at BucRidge on Tuesday, Feb. 21, reported to police that $1,300 in cash belonging to him was taken by the intruders.
Even without those two key contributors, the Bucs rolled throughout the game, trailing only momentarily in the opening minutes and ultimately leading by as many as 14 points in the first half. By the break, the Bucs owned a 29-19 advantage.
After the intermission, ETSU opened with an 11-2 run to make it 40-21. From there, Stetson managed to make it a 10-point contest at 49-39 with 10:35 left in the game, but the Bucs regrouped to put together a 12-3 run, laying to rest any chance of a Hatter rally.
For the game, ETSU shot 45 percent from the floor and 68 percent from the free throw line. The Bucs out-rebounded the Hatters 39-36 and committed just seven turnovers on the night.
Along with the efforts of Brown, Sollazzo and Dubose, junior forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) posted a career high 11 rebounds on the night, while pitching in six points.
Stetson shot just 39 percent from the field and 21 percent from 3-point range, committing 13 turnovers and giving up six steals to the Bucs. For the Hatters, Adam Pegg was the lone bright spot with a 13-point effort.
The Bucs will return to action on Saturday, taking on Florida Gulf Coast in the team’s final regular season home game. Tip is set for 4 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN3.
Prior to that game, ETSU will honor seniors Brown, Hubbard and Sollazzo, along with the late Seth Coy, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident during the summer of 2009.
For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.