Charleston outlasts Bucs late to take conference opener
Charleston outlasts Bucs late to take conference opener
Saturday, December 4, 2004

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 4, 2004) - The College of Charleston Cougars outscored East Tennessee State 14-6 in the final 4:36 to take a 79-72 win over the Buccaneers Saturday afternoon in the Southern Conference opener for both teams at Memorial Center.


Over 4,700 fans came out to see the contest, which was highlighted by senior guard Tony Mitchell's game-high 21 points, all of which came in the second half. The Buccaneers struggled offensively, turning the ball over 24 times compared to just 10 for the Cougars.


"It's a game of inches and it came down to the last five minutes. They just played better," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team dropped to 2-4 overall, 0-1 in SoCon play. "My message to the team was it's a long season. We're not playing very well right now, but I'm sure we'll turn things around. Only one team makes the NCAA Tournament out of this conference, and that's the team that wins the conference tournament. That's still a long way down the road."


The Bucs and Cougars traded baskets early on before Charleston was able to build a nine-point lead at 32-23 with 5:57 remaining in the first half. However, the Bucs methodically worked their way back into the contest and trailed just 34-33 at the half thanks to a Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) layup with 48 seconds before the break.


In the second half, Mitchell was on fire, hitting on 5-of-9 shots from 3-point range and collecting all 21 of his points. He was the difference despite the fact the two teams traded the lead four times. With the score in favor of Charleston at 69-66, a layup by junior guard Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) was blocked by Bernard Jackson and the pro-ETSU crowd expected a foul call. However, the call did not come and from there it was all Charletson, as the Cougars scored the next 10 points to build a comfortable margin.


"That was a huge play, but I can't say more or I'll get in trouble," Bartow said.


For the game, four Charleston players scored in double figures. Along with Mitchell, Stanley Jackson collected 13 points, while Bernard Jackson and Jeff Horowitz added 12 apiece.


ETSU got a team-high 15 points from Smith, who also picked up his third career double-double with 10 rebounds. Smith was joined in double figures by junior post Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) with 14 points, while Rhoda and junior post Dillion Sneed (Chicago) had 12 points apiece. Nuckles' effort was a bright spot, as the 6-foot-9 forward returned from a foot injury to also pick up eight rebounds.


"Getting Brad back was big for us," Bartow said. "We're disappointed right now, but we're not ready to panic."


Charleston returns to action Tuesday night as the Cougars host Auburn at the North Charleston Coliseum at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the Bucs will travel to take on Central Michigan at 7 p.m.