ETSU's Strong, Smith lead Bucs past Elon, 79-67
ETSU's Strong, Smith lead Bucs past Elon, 79-67
Saturday, January 15, 2005

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 15, 2005) - Sophomore guard Travis Strong (Memphis) scored a career high 26 points and junior guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) added 25 as the East Tennessee State men's basketball team dropped Elon 79-67 in Southern Conference basketball action Saturday afternoon at the Memorial Center.


            With the win, ETSU improved to 6-9 overall, 2-3 in SoCon play and enjoyed its first back-to-back wins of the season. The Bucs dropped Western Carolina 76-70 earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Elon fell to 2-15, 0-4 on the season.


            "This is two in a row and now maybe we have a little momentum," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "Getting the win at Western Carolina earlier in the week, having what was probably one of our best practices of the year on Thursday, and then getting this win today feels good. Travis (Strong) is a streaky shooter and when he gets it going he's pretty good. He did that tonight."


In the first half, the Bucs were all about the 3-point play. With three 3-pointers from both senior guard Sam Oatman (Neenah, Wis.) and Strong, as well as a pair of long-range jumpers from Smith, the Bucs did not have a regular two-point basket until the 6:04 mark of the first half and enjoyed their largest lead of the game at halftime, 40-24.


For the first half, the Bucs hit on 73 percent of their shots from 3-point range (8-of-11) and were good on 59 percent from the floor (13-of-22).


Elon scored nine unanswered points to open the second half and then enjoyed another five-point run later, quickly cutting the ETSU lead to six at 43-37 with just under 15 minutes left in the game. However, from there the Bucs answered with a 9-0 run of their own to stretch the lead back out to 15 at 52-37, and the Phoenix were unable to really challenge the rest of the way.


            The Bucs shot a blistering 61 percent from the floor, including 11-of-15 from 3-point range for a 73 percent clip -- which broke the school record of 67 percent which was set in both 1989 and 1996. Meanwhile, Elon hit on 46 percent from the floor, but just 50 percent (11-of-22) from the foul line.


Smith's 25 points marks his 28th career 20-point game, while junior forward Dillion Sneed (Chicago) continued to put up gaudy numbers on the boards with 14 rebounds. Along with Smith and Strong, the Bucs got a solid offensive effort from Oatman, who finished 3-of-4 from 3-point range for nine points. Smith finished with a game-high six assists.


For Elon, guard Scottie Rice led the way with 21 points, while guard Brian Waters and forward Chris Chalko added 16 and 15, respectively.


ETSU will return to action Tuesday night at UNC Greensboro, with tip set for 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Elon will travel to face Appalachian State on Tuesday at 7 p.m.