Bucs extend win streak to five; down Kennesaw State, 72-66
Sunday, February 3, 2008

            JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 3, 2008) - With ETSU holding a comfortable 13-point advantage midway through the first half, this game between the Buccaneers and Atlantic Sun Conference rival Kennesaw State did not have the same intensity of the previous four matches between the two schools. But it did not stay that way.


            After the Owls overcame the 13-point deficit to take a 31-29 lead at the halftime break, a fiery second half that featured a couple of minor scuffles, a technical foul, and a stingy ETSU fullcourt defense resulted in a 72-66 ETSU win Sunday afternoon in front of 3,287 fans at Memorial Center.


            "It's always tough against those guys," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team has now won five straight and improved its record to 13-9 overall, 7-2 in A-Sun play. "(Ronell) Wooten for them is just a tremendous player and he can really take control of a game. We made some adjustments to defend him in the second half, and I think our defensive intensity was a real key."


            The ETSU offense was clicking early in the game, as the Bucs pulled out to a lead of as many as 13 points at 24-11 with just over eight minutes left in the first half. However, from there Kennesaw State went to its 3-point attack, hitting on 7-of-13 from beyond the arc to outscore the Bucs 20-5 the rest of the way and lead 31-29 at the break.


            In the second half, the two teams traded baskets early, but the Bucs went to the full court pressure and the result was a 12-0 burst by the Bucs that made it 51-39 with 11:39 left in the game. ETSU held much of that lead for the next four minutes, but KSU rallied with a 6-0 spurt of its own to pull to within three at 59-56 with 5:23 remaining. But that would be as close as Kennesaw State could get as the Bucs hit their foul shots down the stretch to finish with a six-point cushion.


            For the game, ETSU got a team high 18 points and eight rebounds from junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), while senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) and junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) scored 13 and 10, respectively. Sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) also had a big night on the boards, matching Tiggs with eight rebounds and helping the Bucs to a 38-30 advantage over KSU in that statistical category.


            In the second half, ETSU shot 50 percent from the field and held the Owls to just 38 percent after allowing Kennesaw State to shoot 44 percent in the first half. ETSU grabbed 11 steals and forced 16 turnovers.


            Kennesaw State was led by a game-high 28 points from Wooten, while Shuan Stegall and Keonte Keith added 11 points apiece.


            The Bucs will head on the road for a pair of conference battles next weekend, facing Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m. Friday evening, and then taking on Stetson at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon. For more on ETSU men's basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.