SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (Nov. 24, 2006) - Despite four players scoring in double figures and holding a lead at 42-39 early in the second half, the ETSU men's basketball team was unable to hold off the Southland Conference's preseason favorite Sam Houston State, eventually falling to the Bearkats 72-61 Friday night in the semifinals of the South Padre Island Invitational at the South Padre Island Convention Center.
Without freshman guard Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville, Tenn.) in the lineup for the second straight game, the Buccaneers committed 19 turnovers and allowed Sam Houston State to grab 20 offensive rebounds en route to the win. Despite those disappointing numbers, the Bucs still shot 46 percent from the field and got a career high scoring night from sophomore guard Tayloe Taylor (Memphis).
"Sam Houston State is picked to win their league and I think we competed tonight despite not having two guards we were counting on," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, referring to Twilley as well as injured senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis). "I'm not in the excuse business, but we are young and we have to play well to beat teams like the one we played tonight."
Taylor finished with 13 points and three assists, while junior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) led the ETSU attack with a team high 15 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) and senior forward Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) finished with 14 points apiece. ETSU out-rebounded the Bearkats 34-33 and the Bucs shot 86 percent from the foul line.
In the first half, Sam Houston State came out gunning and built a lead of as many as 12 points at 27-15. However, spurred on by the energetic play of Reed, the Bucs put together a 13-3 run to make it 30-28 with 4:11 left in the half. Reed finished the first 20 minutes with eight points and four rebounds as the Bucs trailed just 37-34 at the break. ETSU shot 52 percent in the first half and had seven different players post assists.
After the intermission, the Bucs took the lead early on and held its largest advantage of the game at 42-39 with 16:17 left. From there, though, Sam Houston State went on a 15-4 run to make it 54-46 with 11:09 on the clock. ETSU would get to within three at 54-51, but the Bearkats would not let the lead slip any more from there and held on for the victory.
For Sam Houston State, Ryan Bright led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds, while Aaron Wade pitched in 11 points. Reggins Rawlins, JeJuan Plair and Shamir McDaniel each pitched in 10 points apiece.
The Bucs move on to the consolation game of the tournament, facing Southern Saturday evening at 8 p.m. (EST). Fans can watch the action live on ETSUBucs.com's video streaming link.