JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 24, 2004) - Powered by a season and game-high 27 points from sophomore guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.), the East Tennessee State University men's basketball team wrapped up a perfect 12-0 season record at Memorial Center with an 84-72 victory over in-state rival Chattanooga.
While Smith put up the big numbers, seniors Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) and Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) were the show in their final home contest wearing an ETSU uniform. The crowd of 8,667 fans - the largest crowd at an ETSU basketball game in 11 years - watched as Wadood picked up his 26th career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Fields netted 20 points and seven rebounds.
"It was good for Jerald and Zakee to go out with a win," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 24-4 and improved to a program-best 15-0 in SoCon play. "Those two guys have been so good to this program the last four years. The players on this team were excited about the game and they couldn't let those two go out any other way."
The Bucs, who won a program-best 16th-straight game, traded baskets with the Mocs most of the first half and led just 28-24 at the break thanks mainly to a 3-point basket at the buzzer by sophomore guard Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio).
In the second half, ETSU started quickly with five quick points to take a 33-24 lead with 18:30 left. While UTC managed to cut the lead to six at 43-37 on a pair of free throws by guard Ray Trowell, that would be as close at the Mocs would get the rest of the night. With the score 51-43 with 11:33 left, the Bucs went on a 11-2 run to make it 62-45 with just over six minutes remaining.
While the Mocs hit six 3-pointers down the stretch, the Bucs were able to stay out of reach and pick up the victory.
Along with the offensive star trio of Smith, Wadood and Fields, Rhoda hit on a career-high nine field goals, finishing with 19 points and six rebounds. Along with his point production, Smith finished with seven assists and just two turnovers in 40 minutes of play, while hitting on a career-high 11 field goals.
For Chattanooga, Trowell netted a team-high 15 points, while Alphonso Pugh and Mindaugas Katelynas pitched in 14 points apiece. Jason Rogan also tossed in 12 points for the Mocs.
ETSU will be trying to finish the regular season with a perfect 16-0 season when they return to action on the road Saturday at College of Charleston. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and is set to tip at 2 p.m. Meanwhile, the Mocs return to play in the their final regular season game Saturday at home against Wofford (7 p.m.).