Bucs advance to A-Sun semis with 81-74 victory over Lipscomb
Thursday, March 6, 2008


NASHVILLE (March 6, 2008) - When the ETSU men's basketball team needed them most, seniors Travis Strong (Memphis), Kenyona Swader (Smyrna), and Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) made the plays needed to capture a quarterfinal win in the 2008 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament.


Strong broke a 71-71 tie thanks to a midrange jumper with 1:46 left in the game, Reed blocked two Lipscomb shot attempts in the last minute, and Swader hit three critical free throws to pick up an 81-74 win over host Lipscomb Thursday night inside Allen Arena. For the game, Strong finished with a team high 16 points, Swader finished with 14 rebounds and 11 points to post his third career double-double, and both junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) finished with 10 points apiece. 


"That's just a great win for us," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 19-12 on the year and will play Belmont in the tournament semifinals Friday night at 9:15 (EST). "We came in here knowing this would be tough - trying to beat Lipscomb on their home floor. Thankfully we got a great team effort and just made a few more plays at the end. I'm just really proud of our guys and we're looking forward to tomorrow night."


In the first half, ETSU opened with a 9-0 run and led 11-2, but the quick start was quickly answered by the Bisons, who went on an 11-2 run of their own to tie the score 13-13 with 12:47 left. From there, though, the Bucs - powered by a season high eight points from Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) and 13 from Strong - responded by going on to build their largest lead of the half at 46-31 with 1:21 left before the intermission.


A pair of three-pointers from Lipscomb's Michael Lusk stopped the bleeding for the Bisons, but the Bucs shot 55 percent from the floor for the half and ultimately led 46-37 at the break.


The back-and-forth battle continued in the second half, as Lusk once again carried the Bisons, scoring five points to help Lipscomb to a 9-2 run and making the score 48-46 with 16:29 left in the game. Just as that momentum seemed to be building, ETSU burst out with a 14-4 run highlighted by a behind-the-back pass from Pigram to Micah Williams (Manchester) for a monstrous slam dunk, leaving the Bucs up 62-50 with 10:48 left.


Not to be outdone, the Bisons quickly answered over the next four minutes with a 9-0 run to make it 62-59 before a pair of free throws from Swader made it 64-59 and stopped the scoreless streak. But Lipscomb methodically battled back, and finally tied the game 71-71 with a lay up and free throw by Jimmy Oden.


At that point, Strong made his baseline jumper, Reed blocked a Lipscomb shot, Swader made a foul shot, the Bucs got another stop and foul, and ultimately made enough free throws at the end to ice the game. The Bucs finished at 48 percent from the field for the game and out-rebounded Lipscomb 42-35. From the foul line, the Bucs hit 76 percent of their attempts (19-of-25).


ETSU's rematch with Belmont will air on the CSS regional cable broadcast, as well as on the web at ASun.TV. The audio broadcast of the MSHA Buccaneer Sports Network will also be available on ETSUBucs.com.