JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 23, 2008) - In need of a confidence boost, the ETSU men's basketball team got one during ESPN's BracketBuster Saturday courtesy of the Ohio Valley Conference's Tennessee Tech.
The Buccaneers won for just the second time in their last five games, getting a career high six 3-pointers and 20 points from senior Travis Strong (Memphis), while senior Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) posted his second career double-double to lead ETSU to an 88-80 win over the Golden Eagles on Senior Day in front of 3,118 fans at Memorial Center.
"We really needed a win to get back on track," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 16-12 on the year after taking a disheartening 96-70 conference loss at Gardner-Webb Thursday night. "This team still has a lot of basketball ahead of us, and getting out there tonight and playing well was important. We have to build some momentum as we prepare for the conference tournament. I wasn't really happy with the start of the second half, but we made enough plays at the end to get it done."
A blowout seemed eminent in the first half, as the Bucs built a lead of as many as 19 points twice and held a 49-30 advantage with remaining before the break. However, Tech bounced back with a 7-0 run to close out the half and trail 51-39 at the intermission.
In the second half, the Golden Eagles kept the pressure on in a big way, outscoring the Bucs 26-12 over the opening nine minutes, taking the air out of the Dome and giving Tech a 65-63 lead with 11:02 left in the game. Strong answered the challenge quickly with a 3-pointer that gave the Bucs the advantage back at 66-65, and ETSU would never relinquish the lead again, outscoring Tech 23-8 over the next seven minutes to lead 86-73 with remaining in the half.
For the game, Strong was 6-of-12 from beyond the arc and finished with 20 points. He was joined with a team-high 20 by junior Kevin Tiggs (
ETSU shot 49 percent from the floor for the game, and an impressive 46 percent from beyond the arc. Tech shot 43 percent from the field and a solid 86 percent from the charity stripe. Both teams committed 21 turnovers, with Tech holding a 42-37 advantage on the boards.
The Bucs have little time to waste in preparation for their next game, which will come Monday night at