ETSU set to host General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament beginning Thursday at Memorial Center
ETSU set to host General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament beginning Thursday at Memorial Center
Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Entire tournament to air on WJCW-AM 910 radio


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 1, 2006) - After months of playing and anticipation, the 2006 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Men's Basketball Championships are set to begin Thursday inside Memorial Center.


Action will get underway with quarterfinal play at 1 p.m. as No. 1 seed Lipscomb takes on No. 8 Mercer, followed by No. 2 Belmont against No. 7 Campbell at approximately 3:15. The day's second quarterfinal session will pit host No. 5 ETSU vs. No. 4 Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m., followed by No. 3 FAU vs. No. 6 Stetson at approximately 9:15. Semifinal play is scheduled for 7 p.m. and 9:15 on Friday, followed by the championship game on Saturday at 2 p.m.


Complete tournament booklets and individual session tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling the ETSU ticket office at 423-439-ETSU (3878). Books are $60 and individual session tickets are $15.


Fans unable to attend the tournament can listen to complete coverage of all seven games, as the Mountain States Health Alliance Buccaneer Sports Network has teamed up with its flagship station WJCW-AM (910) bring fans all the action on radio throughout the weekend. In addition, the evening sessions on Thursday and Friday will be televised on CSS (Comcast Sports Southeast), which is available on both Comcast and Charter cable systems. Saturday's championship game will air nationally on ESPN2.


For more on Thursday's matchups, see below:


#1 Lipscomb Bisons v. #8 Mercer Bears
1:00 pm

Series Record - Mercer leads 4-3
Tournament Series - First Meeting
#1 vs #8 - #1 leads 17-4
Season Series - Lipscomb 2-0

Lipscomb captured their first Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title after finishing 15-5. The Bisons earned the number one seed on virtue of their season sweep of third place Florida Atlantic. A pair of first team All-Atlantic Sun swingmen, Eddie Ard and Brian Fisk, pace Lipscomb offensively, but the Bisons make their mark on the defensive end of the court. Lipscomb allowed only 67.3 points per game this year, the only team in the A-Sun to surrender less than 70 points per game. Mercer is making its conference record 22nd postseason appearance and is one of only two current A-Sun programs to own a conference championship. However, the Bears are in search of their first tourney win since knocking off Jacksonville in the quarterfinals of the 2003 tournament as the number one seed. The top seed has not won the conference championship since 2001 while the #8 seed owns just one tourney title as Florida International took the 1995 crown. The last time a top seed fell in the quarterfinals was in 2000 when Mercer upset Troy 79-75.

#2 Belmont Bruins v. #7 Campbell Fighting Camels 3:15 pm

Series Record - Belmont leads 11-1
Tournament Series - First Meeting
#2 vs #7 - #2 leads 20-4
Season Series - Belmont 2-0

Belmont won their first Atlantic Sun Conference regular season crown with a 15-5 mark. The Bruins matched the school record for A-Sun wins in a season. The last time Belmont won 15 conference games, the team earned an NIT bid. Led by 2nd team selections Justin Hare and Boomer Herndon, Belmont placed a league best three players on postseason all-conference teams. The Bruins 62 conference wins over the last five seasons are the most among current A-Sun members. Campbell is making its first tourney appearance since 2001 and aims for its first victory since 1996 when the second seeded Camels defeated Stetson in the quarterfinals. Campbell rebounded from a winless 2005 campaign to finish seventh with nine A-Sun wins this season. Forward Maurice Latham earned first team honors after leading the A-Sun with 11 double-doubles. The Camels led the nation in scoring at various times throughout the season. Currently, Campbell (3rd - 83.1) and Belmont (9th - 82.2) rank in the top-10 among all Division I programs in scoring. The #2 seed has won consecutive titles.

#4 Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs v. #5 ETSU Buccaneers 7:00 pm (CSS-TV)

Series Record - Series tied 1-1
Tournament Series - First Meeting
#4 vs #5 - #5 leads 14-10
Season Series - Series split 1-1

Five months ago Gardner-Webb and ETSU were selected as preseason favorites to capture the A-Sun title at the league's media day in Johnson City. Now, the two teams meet in traditionally the most competitive opening round game of the championship. Gardner-Webb won 10 of their last 12 games to rebound from a disappointing first half of the conference season. The Bulldogs reached last year's championship game in their first tournament appearance. Gardner-Webb features six seniors and a pair of two-time all-conference selections in Brian Bender and Simon Conn. ETSU is making its first A-Sun Championship appearance and are looking to become the first host school to win the tournament since Georgia State captred the 2001 crown on their home court. senior Tim Smith is the league's top scorer and the A-Sun Player of the Year. GSU's Shernard Long in 2001 was the last POTY to hoist teh Bob VanAtta Trophy.

#3 Florida Atlantic Owls v. #6 Stetson Hatters 9:15 pm (CSS-TV)

Series Record - Stetson leads 15-13
Tournament Series - FAU leads 1-0
#3 vs #6 - #3 leads 18-6
Season Series - Series split 1-1

Florida Atlantic won a school record 14 Atlantic Sun Conference games under first year head coach Matt Doherty. Forward Rodney Webb added an Owl player to the All-Atlantic Sun first team for the second straight season. The last time the Owls were the #3 seed, FAU captured their only A-Sun Tournament title back in 2002. However, Florida Atlantic is making only its second tournament appearance since that title. Stetson enters the tournament riding an eight-game winning streak, the seventh-longest mark in the country. Additionally, the Hatters 9-1 mark matched co-champion Belmont for the best record in the second half of the conference season. Senior guard E.J. Gordon needs just 11 points to crack the top 10 on the A-Sun all-time scoring list. The Deland, Fla., native is also the second leading scorer in Stetson school history. The third seed has won eight consecutive first round tournament games has won three of the last six tourney titles.