NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (Mar. 7, 2003) - East Tennessee State freshman guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) scored 17 points and junior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) added 16 points and 14 rebounds as the Bucs scored a 64-55 win over College of Charleston in the semifinals of the Mountain Dew Southern Conference Tournament at the North Charleston
East Tennessee State will advance to its first SoCon Championship game since 1993. The win gives the Bucs a 19-10 record while College of Charleston falls to 24-7.
ETSU jumped to a 12-point lead early on, taking a 19-7 advantage less than seven minutes into the contest. The Bucs led by six at half, 33-27.
The Cougars were able to forge a tie at 44 with 14:04 to play in the game and led briefly at 46-44 before the game was tied again at 46. East Tennessee State went on a 9-2 run to take a 55-48 lead
College of Charleston was able to close to within four points at 58-54 witnb 1:28 to play but could get no closer. The Bucs made six straight free throws in the final 33 seconds to hold off the Cougars.
Wadood also had a game-high four steals, while Smith addad seven rebounds and a team-high four assists.
Mike Benton led CofC in scoring with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
College of Charleston was held to 29.9 field goal percentage on 20 of 67 shooting from the floor. ETSU outrebounded the Cougars, 49-47.
ETSU will face the winner of the Chattanooga-VMI game at 6 pm on ESPN2 on Saturday, March 8 in the Southern Conference Championship Game.
ETSU Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Ed DeChellis
"This was another great basketball game. My hat goes off to our players, especially these three (Zakee Wadood, Jerald Fields and Tim Smith). They
really led down the stretch, with everyone stepping up and making big plays and getting big rebounds. I'm very proud of our team and the next game will be a lot of fun."
"Defensively we were very solid this evening; it was possibly the best we've played all year. We knew the rebounding edge would be a big factor and I can see that we had that advantage tonight."
"We tried to get into College of Charleston tonight and not allow them to get into a rhythm. We didn't want to give Troy (Wheless) open looks. We wanted to make him work for everything he got."
"It was very important to get big minutes from (Brad) Nuckles and (Isaac) Potter. I'm incredibly proud of our bench. It is good to get the increased confidence heading into the championship game."
Freshman Guard Tim Smith (on stalling C of C run)
"I really fed off (Ryan) Lawson to settle the team down during Charleston's run. He told me we didn't need to push it so I followed his lead."
Junior Forward Zakee Wadood (on his production on the floor)
"With Jerald (Fields) in foul trouble, we didn't have one of our main scoring options on the floor. Coach wanted to spread the floor and have me try and create some offensive opportunities."