JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 12, 2004) - It had been 23 days since the East Tennessee State University men's basketball team played a game inside Memorial Center. The Bucs made the homecoming enjoyable.
Five ETSU players reached double-figures and the Buccaneers forced 36 Union College turnovers on their way to a relatively unchallenged 100-62 non-conference victory over the Bulldogs Monday night. ETSU improved to 11-4 overall and will return to Southern Conference play at home Saturday against Western Carolina (4 p.m.). Meanwhile, Union Colllege dropped to 8-10.
"A win is a win," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team went 3-2 overall and 2-0 in SoCon play during its 23-day hiatus from Johnson City. "We got off to a good start tonight, but things did get sloppy at times. When you get up 20 at the half it's hard to sustain that momentum, but we were able to do that in the second half."
The Bucs opened the game with an offensive flurry that included runs of 9-0 and 11-0. In the end, ETSU led 27-4 following a three-point play by freshman guard Aaron Scott (Houma, La.) at the 12:05 mark of the first half. Union managed to keep ETSU from pulling away even further the rest of the half and trailed by 22 points 52-30 at the break.
In the second half, the Bucs kept the lead in the mid-20s until going on a 24-3 in the final minutes to make it 100-54 with 1:17 remaining. Union rallied to score the final eight points of the game for the final score of 100-62.
The Bucs shot 46 percent from the floor and 83 percent from the foul line. In addition, they grabbed a paltry 25 steals, while Union shot just 47 percent from the foul line.
As for individual performances, ETSU was led by senior forward Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.), who picked up a team-high 22 points and eight rebounds. Fields was joined in double figures by senior Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.), sophomore Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.), sophomore Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) and true freshman Travis Strong (Memphis, Tenn.). Smith collected 19 points and Nuckles had 13, while Strong and Wadood added 12 and 11, respectively. For Scott, the 12-point effort was a career high, while Nuckles also picked up a career best with five steals.
Union was led by Aaron Troutman with 17 and Chris Mullins pitched in 10.