Bucs best Mercer in Atlantic Sun Conference battle, 85-79
Friday, February 1, 2008

            JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 1, 2008) - After watching a nine-point lead dwindle to one with just over three minutes left, the ETSU men's basketball team made enough foul shots and senior Andrew Reed drained a clutch 3-pointer in the final minutes as the Buccaneers outlasted Mercer, 85-79, in Atlantic Sun Conference play Friday night inside Memorial Center.


            The crowd of 5,193 looked on as the Bucs won for the fourth time in a row and improved their season record to 12-9 overall, 6-2 in A-Sun action. Meanwhile, Mercer fell to 9-12, 4-4.


            ETSU was led by junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), who picked up his third career double-double with a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds, while senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) netted a season high 22 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) was the only other Buccaneer in double figures, picking up 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals.


            "Mercer is an explosive offensive team, but I thought we'd have a chance to score as well and I think we saw that tonight," said Bartow, whose team has won six of its last eight games. "Kenyona is really on a roll right now, and when we recruited Kevin that is what we expected from him. Both those guys are such hard match ups for other teams and they showed that tonight. We're getting better."


            In an offensive first half, the Bucs and Bears combined to score 84 points and both teams shot over 40 percent from 3-point range. Mercer took the early advantage and held a lead of as many as five points thanks to a 3-point play from Brian Pfohl that made it 26-21 with 9:15 remaining before the break. From there, though, ETSU went on a 23-7 run of its own thanks to a 3-point barrage from senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) and senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) that made it 44-33. Mercer would not let the Bucs enjoy cushion, outscoring them 7-0 to close the half and make it 44-40 at the break.


            ETSU did not relinquish its lead in the second half, but after building a lead of as many as nine points, the Bears offense hit its stride and managed an 8-0 run to make it 76-75 with 3:10 remaining on the clock. From there, Tiggs hit a pair of free throws and Reed sank his 3-pointer from the right wing to build enough of an advantage to hold on for the win.


            The Bucs forced Mercer into 16 turnovers on nine steals, and shot 43 percent from the field. Meanwhile, the Bears hit on 41 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Bucs 49-44.


            ETSU will return to action Sunday at 2 p.m., hosting Kennesaw State at Memorial Center. For more on the Bucs, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.