Bucs drop back-and-forth battle to Gardner-Webb, 69-64
Bucs drop back-and-forth battle to Gardner-Webb, 69-64
Saturday, February 11, 2006

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 11, 2006) -  In a game that featured eight ties and eight lead changes, Gardner-Webb's senior guard Tim Jennings scored a game-high 28 points and fellow senior guard T. J. McCullough netted five clutch points in the final minutes to give the Runnin' Bulldogs a 69-64 upset win over ETSU in front of 5,003 fans Saturday at Memorial Center.


The loss ruined Senior Day for the Buccaneers, who drop to 15-9 overall, 12-5 in Atlantic Sun Conference play, and fall from first to second place in the A-Sun standings. Meanwhile, Gardner-Webb improved to 13-10, 10-6 with their sixth win in seven games.


"Obviously, we're disappointed in the loss," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team had a four-game winning streak snapped. "We knew they were a hot team coming in here, winning five of their last six and beating Kennesaw State the way they did earlier this week. Bottom line, we just didn't shoot the ball well. We kept them to 69 points and out-rebounded them which are good things, but give them credit they just made more big plays than we did."


The Bucs certainly struggled shooting the basketball, hitting on just 23-of-57 shots for a clip of 36.5 percent from the field. Meanwhile, the Runnin' Bulldogs were hot from beyond the arc most of the game, finishing with 12 buckets from 3-point range and hitting on 41 percent from outside.


In the first half, Gardner-Webb led most of the way before the Bucs tied the game at 25 with 6:09 left. The lead changed four times the rest of the half and ended with the Runnin' Bulldogs leading 32-30.


After the break, the Bucs trailed 37-34 before going on a 9-0 run to grab the largest advantage of the game for either team at six, 43-37. However, at that point, Gardner-Webb's Ricky McPhee was inserted into the game and hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie it up. With the game tied at 66, McCullough hit a runner in the lane to make it 64-62 with just over two minutes left, and the Bucs then got back to within one at 64-63 on a free throw by senior forward Dillion Sneed (Chicago). However, McCullough answered again on a 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining to ice the game.


The Bucs, who were without the services of Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) after the senior guard injured his left ankle in Friday's practice, got a team-high 22 points from senior guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.). Meanwhile, Sneed picked up his 12th career double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds, and junior forward Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) finished with 12 points and six boards.


For Gardner-Webb, Jennings led the way with a 9-of-13 shooting effort for 28 points, while senior forward Brian Bender pitched in 13.


ETSU now begins a daunting three-game road swing beginning Thursday evening at Florida Atlantic, with tip set for 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Gardner-Webb returns home for a critical two-game stand, facing Belmont on Thursday and Lipscomb Saturday. Both of those games are scheduled for 7 p.m.