ETSU rally falls short as Citadel wins 80-76
ETSU rally falls short as Citadel wins 80-76
Monday, January 24, 2005

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 24, 2005)- The Citadel held off a late frantic rally by East Tennessee State to take an 80-76 road win over the Buccaneers in Southern Conference action Monday night at Memorial Center.


The Citadel (12-5 overall, 4-3 SoCon) held a 10-point lead at 76-66 with just under two minutes left in the game, but the Bucs' fullcourt pressure forced turnovers and easy baskets to get within three points at 79-76 with 13 seconds left. ETSU (6-12, 2-6) had the ball and senior guard James Anthony (Tampa, Fla.) had an open look at the basket for a 3-pointer, but the shot did not fall.


"It was a tough game for us, but I think The Citadel played well and you have to give them credit - they are the most improved team in our league," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "We knew the things that would hurt us and they did. We knew (Warren) Mclendon would hurt us inside and he did. We knew (Kevin) Hammack could drive to the basket and hurt us, and he did."


Mclendon and Hammack certainly did the job for the Bulldogs. Both players netted career highs, with Mclendon - a true freshman - leading all scorers with 27 and Hammack collecting 22. The Citadel shot a blistering 58 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the foul line, outrebounding the Bucs 34-28.


            In the first half, ETSU took the early lead at 2-0 on a layup by Dillion Sneed (Chicago), but the Bulldogs prompltly put together an 11-0 run to lead 11-2 with 16:15 remaining in the half. From there, the Bucs put together a methodical comeback, actually taking the lead at 31-29 with a 3-pointer by guard Travis Strong (Memphis) with 4:29 remaining in the half.


However, The Citadel regrouped and managed to hold a 41-36 lead at the intermission after watching a halfcourt shot by ETSU senior guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) rim out at the buzzer. There were four ties and three lead changes before the break.


            ETSU came out strong in the second half, using at 8-2 run to take the lead at 44-43 thanks to a pair of free throws by junior guard Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio). However, the Citadel regained the lead and later led by two at 68-66, before going on an 8-0 run to take a 10-point advantage with 1:56 remaining. Again, the Bucs rallied but Anthony's shot did not find the mark with 28 seconds remaining and the Citadel held on for the win.


            For ETSU, four players scored in double figures, with Rhoda netting a career high with 22 points, while Smith reached 20 points for the 30th time in his career with 20. Strong and Sneed also scored in double figures with 13 and 12, respectively.


            The Bucs will return to action on Wednesday night at Davidson, with tip time set for 7 p.m. Meanwhile, The Citadel returns to play against the same Davidson team on Saturday, with that game time set for 7 p.m.