Rally falls short as Clemson top Bucs 80-72
Rally falls short as Clemson top Bucs 80-72
Friday, December 9, 2005

CLEMSON, S.C. (Dec. 9, 2005) - Senior Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) scored a season-high 33 points - including 21 in the second half - but ETSU could not overcome inopportune turnovers and fell to hot-shooting Clemson 80-72 Friday night in a non-conference matchup highlighted by back-and-forth offensive runs at Littlejohn Coliseum.          

With the loss, the Bucs fall to 1-5 on the season, while the Tigers remain perfect at 8-0. Despite the loss, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow was pleased with the fight of his team.


"To come on the road and lose to an ACC school by eight, we're obviously not pleased with the loss but you can't be unhappy with the effort," Bartow said. "Tim and Courtney really played with a lot of energy. We just needed to hit some shots when we had open looks and we didn't do that."


The Tigers took an eight-point lead into halftime, holding the Bucs to their lowest first-half point total of the season at 36-28. Clemson extended the margin to 14 with an 8-2 run to start the second frame capped by Sam Perry's layup with 17:38 to play.


However, at that point, the Bucs used a 10-2 run of their own to pull within six with 11:23 to play with Smith scoring all 10 points, including eight-straight in 49-seconds. After Smith's three pulled ETSU to 54-48 the answered by ripping off a 13-2 run of their own, punctuated by Cliff Hammonds matching Smith with 10 consecutive points.


Trailing by 17 with eight minutes to play, the Bucs turned up the defensive pressure, inducing 12 of Clemson's 22 turnovers in the second half. The turnovers led to another Buc scoring run, as  junior Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) capped an 11-0 run with a three from the corner to cut the Tiger lead to 67-61 with five minutes remaining.


From there the Tigers clamped down on defense and hit 9-of-12 free throws over the final five minutes to ensure that ETSU did not draw closer.


Smith finished with a game-high 33 points on 13-of-26 shooting, and tied with Nuckles for a team-high eight rebounds. Freshman Courtney Pigram (Memphis, Tenn.) was the only Buc to join Smith in double figures, scoring 18 on 8-of-18 shooting. Smith finished with season highs for field goals (13), field goals attempted (26), points (33), rebounds (8) and steals (6).


Hammonds led Clemson with 21 points, and center Akin Akingbala grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. The Tigers had 15 offensive rebounds, allowing them to outscore the Bucs 23-11 on second-chance points.


The Bucs will return to the road December 17 against Ohio Valley power Austin Peay, while Clemson will travel to the San Juan Shootout to take on Puerto Rico-Mayaguez on Dec. 19. For more on ETSU basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com.