Saturday, February 26, 2005
STATESBORO, Ga. (Feb. 26, 2005) - A late rally by East Tennessee State fell just short as Georgia Southern defeated the Bucs in the season finale for both teams, 97-91, from Hanner Fieldhouse in Statesboro, Ga. With the loss, ETSU falls to 9-18, 4-12 in Southern Conference play while the Eagles close out the regular season 17-12, and 10-6 in conference games.
In front of a national audience on ESPN2, the Southern Conference's top two scorers put on a show. ETSU junior point guard Tim Smith (Newport, News, Va.), number one in scoring, poured in a career-high 41 points. However, the trio of Elton Nesbitt (second in scoring), Terry Williams and Donte Gennie combined for 66 points. Those three accounted for all 12 of Georgia Southern's 3-pointers: Nesbitt 6, Williams 4 and Gennie 2.
Down 25-24 midway through the first half, Williams hit a three-pointer that put the Eagles ahead what turned out to be for good. That started a 21-5 run over five minutes. Up 11 at halftime, Georgia Southern led by as many as 19 early in the second half (60-41) before ETSU made a run. In fact the Buccaneers outscored the Eagles 29-13 over the next eight minutes. A Smith three-pointer capped the run and made it a 73-70 game.
Later Gennie scored five straight points to help the Eagles start to pull away. The lead grew to 10 points twice before Smith and ETSU went at it again. Another trey from the junior guard made it 90-86 but the Eagles answered every run made against them.
The Eagles shot 49.4 percent from the game, five points higher than ETSU, and sank 12-of-23 from beyond the arc. Free throw shooting was a downfall as GS made only 9-of-17 attempts.
Smith made 16-of-29 field goals, including 5-of-7 beyond the arc. Junior forward Dillion Sneed (Chicago, Ill.) joined Smith in double-figures, totaling 10 points and a SoCon season-high 22 rebounds.
Nesbitt reached 30 points for the fourth time this year in SoCon play, finishing with 31. Gennie scored a career-high 21 points. Francois added 17 points and four blocks while Williams contributed 14 points and game-high eight assists. Louis Graham just missed out on his third straight double-double, ending with eight points and team-high 10 rebounds.
East Tennessee State returns to action on Mar. 2-5 as they travel to Chattanooga, Tenn., for the 2005 Kyocera Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championships.