JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 20, 2002) - Before heading off for a short Christmas break, the East Tennessee State University men's basketball team started the holidays off right with a 93-82 victory over non-conference foe Coastal Carolina Friday night at Memorial Center.
Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) led the way for the Buccaneers (4-4) with a game-high 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field. He was joined by true freshman point guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.), who continuously impressed the crowd of 3,280 with a thrill-a-minute style that resulted in 18 points, four assists and six steals.
ETSU head coach Ed DeChellis said he was happy with the win, but believes his team is ready for a break after playing a grueling non-conference schedule that included road games at South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia and UNC Wilmington.
"Again we seemed to play very well in spurts," said DeChellis, whose team will return to action Dec. 28 against Belmont College in the two-day South Florida Invitational in Tampa, Fla. "Obviously, Zakee - other than his free-throw shooting - played great tonight.
"But we seemed to run like we were in mud, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that we're ready for a break. I think we need four or five days off to regroup, and I think the break will help us to play with more energy when we get back on the court."
Indeed, DeChellis' assessment of the game was right on the mark.
While Coastal Carolina (4-4) held a 7-1 lead, the Bucs put together a 27-12 led and built a 28-19 cushion by the 9:26 mark of the first half. Another 17-4 run followed shortly after and with 4:44 left in the first half ETSU led by 21 at 44-23.
The Chanticleers managed to cut that lead back down to 16 at 50-34 by the intermission, but Coastal Carolina head coach Pete Strickland knew his team was having trouble safely controlling the basketball.
"I think our 27 turnovers in the game was an indication of the problems we were having," Strickland said. "ETSU did a good job against our half-court defense and (Smith) showed a lot of poise for a freshman. He is very aggressive with the ball.
"Wadood hurt us last year and he did it again to us this year."
Coastal Carolina slowly managed to cut the Bucs lead down, trailing by just 12 points at 61-49 with 15:43 left in the game. However, ETSU pulled back out to a 20-point advantage when a James Anthony (Brandon, Fla.) layup made it 77-57 with 11:23 left. From there, ETSU got every player on the bench in the lineup and coasted to the 12-point victory.
Along with Wadood and Smith, true freshman Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) put together a solid game with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor and Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) went 4-of-5 from the field and scored 11 points.
For the Chanticleers, Torrey Butler led the way with 19 points, while teammates E.J. Gallup, Tony Darden and Mihai Raducanu pitched in 16, 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Once again, ETSU will return to play Dec. 28th against Belmont in Tampa, Fla. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m.