ELON, N.C. (Jan. 19, 2004)-- In the first ever meeting between the two schools, ETSU overcame a tough first half to score 55 points in the second stanza and come away with a 75-72 win over Elon Monday night from Alumni Gym in Elon, N.C.
With the win, ETSU moves to 12-4 overall and 5-0 in Southern Conference play, its best conference start since the 1989-90 squad opened its season with five straight wins. Elon falls to 5-12 and 1-4 in SoCon competition.
East Tennessee State shot just 32 percent (7-22) in the first half, and trailed the Phoenix, 28-20, at the break. The Bucs did however go on a 4-0 run in the final 49 seconds of the half to trim the Elon lead from 12 down to eight.
Buccaneer head coach Murry Bartow made some effective adjustments at halftime, as ETSU shot a torrid 61 percent (17-28) in the second stanza. The Bucs took their first lead since 11-10 early in the first half when sophomore guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) nailed a three-pointer to make the score 45-44 with 12:10 left in the game.
The Buccaneers and the Phoenix traded the lead for the next minute and a half, but ETSU took the advantage for good on a layup by Smith that made the score 49-48 with 10:49 remaining.
The Phoenix never gave up, as ETSU's lead never stretched to more than seven points. Elon made a furious rally late in the game, cutting the Buccaneer lead to one point with just 12 seconds left in the contest.
East Tennessee State held on for the victory as Elon missed a three-pointer with two seconds left and, following two made free throws by senior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.), missed another desparation three at the buzzer.
Smith led the Bucs in scoring for the second consecutive game, hitting 8-of-14 shots for 20 points and adding three assists and three steals. He has been on a tear recently, averaging 22.3 points over the last three games, all ETSU victories.
Wadood had another great all-around game, tallied his 23rd-career double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He also led the team with four assists and two blocks and tied for the team lead with three steals. Sophomore forward Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) added 17 points and three steals in the victory.
Elon was led by forward Jackson Atoyebi, who scored a game-high 26 points on 8-of-11 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the free-throw line. Guard Scottie Rice led the Phoenix with seven rebounds and five assists while adding 15 points.
The Bucs return home to Memorial Center Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against SoCon rival Davidson. For ticket information, call the ETSU ticket office at 423-439-5371.