TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 28, 2002) -- Junior forward Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.), junior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) and sophomore Tiras Wade (Tampa, Fla.) each scored 15 points as East Tennessee State beat Belmont 71-61 in the first round of the University of South Florida Holiday Classic on Saturday.
True freshman point guard Tim Smith added 10 points and six assists for the Buccaneers (5-4) en route to their fourth victory in five games. Wade pulled down 11 rebounds while Wadood also had 10 boards on the afternoon. Wadood and Fields tied for the Buccaneer team lead with three blocks each.
Adam Mark scored 15 points to lead Belmont (3-7), which has lost four in a row. Adam Sonn had 12 points and Nick Otis added 10 for the Bruins.
East Tennessee State opened a 15-point lead midway through the first half, but Belmont cut the deficit to 30-26 at the intermission.
The Bruins briefly moved ahead on a pair of free throws by Mark four minutes into the second half, but East Tennessee State responded with a 15-2 run to make it 49-37.
The Bucs will face the host Bulls (6-3) - a 92-52 winner over Long Island University-Brooklyn - in the championship game Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. from the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.