ETSU men enjoy early Christmas gift with win over Union
ETSU men enjoy early Christmas gift with win over Union
Tuesday, December 21, 2004


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2004) - Behind a career high 22 points from sophomore guard Travis Strong (Memphis, Tenn.) and double-figure scoring from four other East Tennessee State players, the Buccaneers dismantled Union College by a score of 102-67 Tuesday night at Memorial Center.


A crowd of 3,872 looked on as ETSU took a 35-13 halftime lead and then pulled away in the second half for the 35-point victory. The Bucs improved to 4-6 on the season, while Union dropped to 6-7 overall.


"I saw a lot of encouraging things out there - five guys in double figures, 20 assists, and a nice first game for Greg Surmacz (Peterborough, Ontario)," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team now gets to enjoy a four-day break before returning to Johnson City to prepare for the second half of the season. "Whether you're 10-0 or 4-6, the Christmas break is always a nice layoff. I'm not one for excuses, but we are a banged up team and we've struggled so far this season so I think we need this time off."


In the first half, the Bucs led by a score of 16-10 and their defensive pressure finally began to make an impact on the Bulldogs' offensive efforts. Union was held scoreless for a five-minute period beginning at the 11:41 mark and it stayed that way until a 3-pointer by the Bulldogs finally broke the drought. By then the Bucs held a 35-13 lead with 6:16 left before the intermission.


Union managed to cut into the lead marginally before the halftime break, trailing by 16 at 48-32. A total of 22 turnovers by Union were the key to the Bucs' large lead.


In the second half, the Bulldogs actually cut the lead to as few as 11 points at 61-50 at the 14:43 mark. However, from there the Bucs would outscore Union 41-17 to put the game away.


            ETSU forced 30 turnovers by the Bulldogs, held a 49-39 rebounding advantage, collected 13 steals and shot 45 percent from the floor. The Bucs were also an impressive 48 percent from 3-point range and held Union to just 35 percent from the floor for the game.


Along with Strong's 22 points, the Bucs got an additional 22 from junior guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.), who eclipsed the 20-point mark for the 25th time in his career. Junior forward Dillion Sneed (Chicago) picked up his second career double-double with 11 rebounds and 10 points, while junior guard Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) netted 15 points and Surmacz provided an additional 10.


For Union, Aaron Troutman collected a team high 20 points, while Jerrod Gibbons pitched in 18.


ETSU returns to action on Dec. 30 as the Bucs travel to take on the Memphis Tigers. Gametime is set for 8 p.m. (EST) and fans can listen to the game beginning at 7 p.m. with the pregame show on the Mountain States Health Alliance Buccaneer Sports Network.