Technical foul caps crushing loss to Belmont in semifinals

Friday, March 07, 2008


NASHVILLE (March 7, 2008) - What may be one of the most controversial foul calls in Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament history highlighted a nightmarish final seven minutes for the ETSU men's basketball team, as the Buccaneers watched a 10-point advantage vanish in the final minutes Friday night of a 69-65 loss to rival Belmont inside the Allen Arena.


Leading 63-53 with 6:22 remaining in the game, Belmont went on an 11-2 run to make it 65-64 with 1:22 left on the clock. From there, the Bucs and Bruins made defensive stops, but with less than 30 seconds left a mad scramble on the floor ultimately ended with senior Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) being fouled by Belmont's Andy Wicke with just 17 seconds left. Following the whistle, official Doug Sirmons called a technical foul on Swader.


The end result was Belmont's Justin Hare hitting a pair of free throws on the technical to give Belmont the lead, and Swader later missed the front end of his one-and-one. ETSU was forced to foul at that point and ultimately took the loss.


"This is the most disappointing loss I've had as a head coach," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, who made no comment to the media about the technical call. "We just couldn't make shots the last seven minutes."


The foul call tarnished what was otherwise a great game for Swader, who finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds to post his fourth career double-double. As a team, the Bucs had also managed to stall the Belmont offense, which had thrived against ETSU en route to a 5-1 record over the last six meetings. On this night, the Bruins hit on just 33 percent of their shots and were 9-of-39 from 3-point range (23 percent). But it was still not enough, as the Bucs finished the year 19-13 overall.


An offensive frenzy highlighted the first half, as both teams lit up the nets and the lead was passed back-and-forth throughout the 20 minutes. Belmont held the early advantage, building a lead of as many as six points at 16-10 with just under 16 minutes left in the half, but the Bucs battled back to tie it at 17-17 and over the next seven minutes there were four ties and four lead changes.


            Ultimately, the Bucs powered to a nine-point edge thanks to a 13-2 run powered by nine straight points from sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) that made it 44-35 with just over a minute left in the half. However, a runner by Alex Renfroe and a 3-pointer by Matthew Dotson at the buzzer made it 44-40 at the break. The Bucs shot 50 percent from the floor and 44 percent from behind the arc, while the Bruins cooled down from a hot start to finish at 36 percent from the floor.


            In the second half, the Bucs looked in control with their 10-point lead, but ultimately scored just 21 points in the final 20 minutes of the game.


            Along with Swader, junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) finished with a game-high 20 points, while Smith finished with 13. For Belmont, Matthew Dotson scored 17 points, Shane Dansby finished with 14, Alex Renfroe posted 11 and Justin Hare netted 10.


            With the 2007-08 season at a close, fans can keep up-to-date with ETSU men's basketball by visiting and clicking on the men's hoops link.


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