JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2007) - Committing 27 turnovers and losing the battle of the boards, the ETSU men's basketball team watched its 10-game winning streak come to an end Thursday evening against Jacksonville, falling to the Dolphins 74-66 inside Veterans Memorial Arena.
With the loss, ETSU drops to 18-8 overall, 12-2 in Atlantic Sun Conference play, while Jacksonville improves to 12-11, 8-5. The Bucs remain a game and a half ahead of Belmont in the A-Sun standings, as the Bruins prepare to meet Lipscomb in the second edition of this year's Battle of the Boulevard Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
"You just can't win when you turn the ball over 27 times," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "We were out-hustled, out-worked and out-played. We knew Jacksonville was a good team. They were 9-0 in this building before tonight and now they're 10-0."
Inept offense cost the Bucs throughout the game. In the first half, ETSU built its largest lead of the game at 20-14 with 8:44 remaining before the break, but Jacksonville needed just 38 seconds to tie the contest at 20-20, and the Dolphins eventually took a 36-32 lead into the break. In all, the Bucs turned the ball over 16 times and were out-rebounded 19-16 before the intermission.
In the second half, Jacksonville jumped out to an eight point lead at 43-35 with 17:14 remaining in the contest, but ETSU answered to actually regain the advantage 50-49 thanks to a lay up by freshman guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) with 13:26 left on the game clock. The game was tied three times and the lead changed hands four times before Jacksonville took the advantage for good at 58-57 with 7:24 remaining in the game.
What cost the Bucs most was having both junior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) and Smith foul out with over eight minutes remaining in the contest. Compounding those issues was the fact that junior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) missed the game due to a family tragedy and was at home back in Tennessee. Swader is expected to be back with the team after this weekend.
In all, the Bucs held Jacksonville to just 39 percent shooting for the game, but were out-rebounded 39-29 and gave up 14 offensive rebounds to the Dolphins. ETSU was led offensively by sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) with 23 points, while Smith matched his career high with 20 points.
For Jacksonville, Ben Smith finished with a team-high 14 points, Jess Kimbrough posted 13, and Tyrone Curnell netted 12.
The Bucs will continue on their final road swing of the season Saturday when they stay in Jacksonville to face North Florida at 4 p.m. The game will be available on live video streaming at ETSUBucs.com.