BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. (Jan. 7, 2007) - Back on Jan. 7, 2006, former ETSU star Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) became the last Buccaneer player to eclipse 30 points for a game, netting 37 in a win at Campbell. One year to the date, senior forward Brad Nuckles (Council,
Netting a career high 31 points, Nuckles answered critics and helped power the Bucs back from a 12-point second half deficit to drop Gardner-Webb 66-63 in Atlantic Sun Conference play Sunday afternoon at Paul Porter Arena. With the win, ETSU improves to 10-7 overall, 4-1 in A-Sun play, while Gardner-Webb drops to 3-11, 1-2.
"It's not been a matter of confidence or off the court issues, I've just not been taking care of my body the way I should," said Nuckles, referring to the past three games and his inability to produce. "This is more like what I expect. My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and helping me have the opportunity to score."
Using a repertoire of moves around the basket, Nuckles kept the Gardner-Webb defense perplexed throughout the game. And in fact, Nuckles was left to basically power the offense by himself in the first half.
Scoring 18 of ETSU's 27 points before the intermission, Nuckles was a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor and helped the Bucs keep the lead most of the first half. However, the Bulldogs finally managed to overcome their early troubles and take the lead at 21-19 on a Takayo Siddle 3-pointer at the 6:28 mark. From there, Gardner-Webb built leads of four points several times and finished the half ahead, 31-27. Eleven first half turnovers by the Bucs and 57 percent shooting from the floor for the Bulldogs led to the four-point deficit.
In the second half, the Bucs continued to struggle to find their rhythm, and fell behind by as many as 12 points at 47-35 with just over 13:32 left in the game. But from there, ETSU used a 16-4 run to tie the game at 51-51 with 9:29 left. Both teams traded the lead a couple more times, but it was ETSU's defensive pressure and a pair of free throws by freshman guard Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville) with seven seconds remaining that gave the Bucs their final margin of victory. Gardner-Webb's Chris Gash had a shot to tie the game as time expired, but the ball bounced hard off the front rim.
Along with Nuckles, the only other ETSU player to reach double figures scoring was sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (
ETSU will return to action in Atlantic Sun Conference play Tuesday night at 7 p.m., facing off with