HONOLULU - Despite shooting 54 percent from the floor and holding a lead of as many as eight points with 12:31 remaining in its game, the East Tennessee State Buccaneers fell victim to the hot shooting of IUPUI's tandem of Akeem Clark and Odell Bradley Saturday in the first round of the Rainbow Classic at the Stan Sheriff Coliseum.
Clark and Bradley combined for a total of 60 points in the game. Clark finished with 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting - including a 9-of-15 clip from 3-point-range - while Bradley finished with 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor.
"You've got to give them credit," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "We knew coming in that they could shoot it, and they shot the heck out of it tonight. Bradley's the best player in their league and he showed it tonight. This is an NCAA caliber team and we were very concerned about the game.
"Bottom line, they made more plays than we did tonight."
The Buccaneers (7-3) struggled early in the game and trailed 33-25 with 3:57 left in the first half. However, ETSU finished the first half with a 12-3 run to hold a 37-36 advantage heading into the locker room.
In the second half, the Bucs surged out of the box with five quick points to make their lead 42-36 and built their lead to eight at 63-55 with just over 13 minutes left in the game. However, the Bucs scored just two points over the next six minutes and IUPUI built a seven-point lead over that span at 72-65 with 6:23 remaining.
The lead remained seven at 77-70 with 3:02 left when the Bucs rallied one last time. Pulling to within one point with 21 seconds remaining, Bradley made two free throws to make the score 84-81. Sophomore guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) then pushed the ball up the court and launched a 3-point attempt that rimmed out with seven seconds left.
For the Bucs, all five starters scored in double figures, with senior Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) and sophomore guard Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) finishing with 18 points apiece. Fields added 10 rebounds to collect the eighth double-double of his career. Smith ended the game with 17 points, while junior guard James Anthony (Tampa, Fla.) and senior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) finished with 12 points.
ETSU will move on to face the loser of the Lamar-Hawaii game on Monday, Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. (EST). Buccaneer fans can listen to the call of the game on the Buccaneer Sports Network with the pregame show scheduled for 3 p.m.