JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 7, 2002) - East Tennessee State University's men's basketball coach Ed DeChellis made a change in his starting lineup for Saturday's game with UNC Asheville. It proved to be a good move.
Taking over for sophomore guard Sam Oatman (Neenah, Wis.) - who had started the Buccaneers first four games -- true freshman point guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) made the most of his first career start by collecting game-highs in scoring (20 points), assists (six) and steals (five), while also picking seven rebounds in ETSU's 87-69 victory over non-conference foe UNC Asheville Saturday afternoon in front 3,135 fans at Memorial Center.
"I just felt like we needed to make a change at point guard," said DeChellis, whose team improved to 2-3 on the young season. "I think Sam was putting a lot of pressure on himself and Tim was able to come in a play a whale of a game for us. He really pushes the ball well and he has the ability to make everyone around him play better."
That was evident in the final box score, as four other Bucs cracked double-digit scoring. Junior forwards Jerald Field (Gainesville, Fla.) and Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, followed by sophomore guard James Anthony (Brandon, Fla.) with a 13-point effort and senior guard Ryan Lawson (Rogersville) with 10 points. The Bucs shot 47 percent from the field, which included a blistering 10-of-21 (48 percent) clip from beyond the 3-point line.
"ETSU beat us in all phases of the game," said UNC Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach, whose team dropped to 2-3 on the season. " Ed has a very good team here and they will battle for the (Southern Conference) title this year. We simply didn't play well at all."
After jumping out to an early 11-5 lead on a basket by Wadood and an assist from Smith, the Bucs were able to cushion their lead throughout the first half and hold an advantage of as many as 16 points at 37-21 with 4:58 left before intermission. However, the Bulldogs put together a 9-3 run to finish out the first half and trailed 40-30 at the break.
But ETSU methodically added to its lead in the second half and a layup by Anthony thanks to an assist from Smith made it 84-63 with 1:57 left in the game. The Bulldogs were unable to make a move the rest of the way.
Smith, who saw a career-high 31 minutes of playing time, said he was happy to do his part.
"I just didn't feel right coming off the bench," Smith said. "But I understood Sam put in his time and deserved the starting job. I just want to do my part."
For Asheville, post Ben McGonagil led the way with 19 points for the Bulldogs. McGonagil was joined in double figures by Andre Smith (16), Bryan McCullough (13) and Alex Kragel (12).
ETSU will be in action again Saturday, Dec. 14 when they host UVa.-Wise at 4 p.m. The game will be played in Brooks Gym due to graduation ceremonies being held that day at Memorial Center.