Belmont races to large halftime lead, drops ETSU 87-75
Thursday, February 14, 2008

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 14, 2008) - Guard Shane Dansby scored a career high 28 points to help power Belmont to a 20-point halftime lead and yet another win inside ETSU's Memorial Center, as the Bruins cruised to an 87-75 Atlantic Sun Conference win over the Buccaneers Thursday night in front of 4,262 fans on Valentine's Day evening.


For the Bucs (14-11 overall, 8-4 A-Sun), the loss basically ends their dreams of a regular season championship and marks the first time this season they have dropped back-to-back league games. Meanwhile, Belmont (18-8, 10-2) solidified its hopes for a title and the Bruins improved their overall record inside Memorial Center to 9-0 - with six of those wins coming in the A-Sun Tournament.


"It's a tough loss," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose teams is now 1-6 against Belmont since joining the Atlantic Sun in 2005-06 and 6-6 in the all-time series. "Obviously, there were several keys in the game, but our inability to make shots was huge. That really killed us in the first half. I thought the effort was great in the second half, but we were just too far behind.


"Belmont's a really good team and they are well coached. We just haven't had much success against them. It's disappointing because our hopes for a regular season championship are over, but we still have a lot to play for. We can still win 20 games and the truth is any team in our league needs three wins in our tournament to make the NCAA Tournament."


The first half was another offensive barrage for Belmont, as the Bruins rolled to a 17-4 lead before the second media timeout. While the Bucs cut the lead to 10 at 25-15 with just over six minutes remaining in the half, the Bruins again used a 22-12 run to finish the half up 47-27. In all, Belmont shot 51 percent from the floor and connected on seven 3-pointers, while the Bucs hit on just 32 percent from the floor and 18 percent from beyond the arc.


The Bucs battled in the second half, cutting the lead to 11 at 64-53 on a 3-pointer by junior Courtney Pigram (Memphis) with 12:26 left. However, Belmont hit four 3-pointers from there, stopping the ETSU momentum and pulling back out to an 80-60 advantage with 5:42 remaining. The Bucs ultimately got back to 10 points down at 85-75 with 1:28 left, but it was too little too late.


Belmont shot 53 percent for the game, while ETSU was just 39 percent from the floor. The Bucs were out-rebounded 44-37 and committed 21 turnovers to just 14 for Belmont.


The Bucs got a team high 16 points from Pigram, while junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) netted 14. Meanwhile, senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) and sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) netted 13 apiece. Along with Dansby, Belmont's Matthew Dotson scored 12, while Keaton Belcher pitched in 11 and Andy Wicke scored 10. 


ETSU returns to action Saturday afternoon, facing Lipscomb at 4 p.m. inside Memorial Center and trying to stop their current two-game skid.