Sluggish ETSU musters win over USC Upstate, 67-60
Saturday, January 5, 2008

            JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 5, 2008) - The ETSU men's basketball team may have been facing a first year Division I opponent on Saturday, but USC Upstate was not interested in making anything easy for the Buccaneers.


            In the first meeting ever between the schools, ETSU held just a 3-point lead with 10 minutes left in the game, but the Buccaneers were able to overcome one of their worst offensive games of the year to pick up a win in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener for both teams 67-60 at Memorial Center. With the win, ETSU improves to 7-7 on the year, 1-0 in A-Sun play, while USC Upstate drops to 2-13, 0-1.


            "The most important thing is getting a win," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 5-0 at home this season. "We did a lot of good things. We allowed just 60 points, forced 20 turnovers and we held them to 34 percent from the floor. Offensively, we just couldn't make shots. I thought we were ready to play, but you have to make shots. There was a lot of good on defense, but a lot of bad on offense. Obviously, we had too many turnovers."


            Four Bucs reached double figures, led by a game-high 14 points and team-high seven rebounds from senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.). Along with Reed, sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) pitched in 13, senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) added 11, and junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) netted 10.


            For USC Upstate, forward Bobby Davis posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while teammate Jeremy Byrd posted a game-high 14. Luke Payne and Mezie Uzochukwu each added 11 points apiece for the Spartans.


            In the first half, ETSU used a 16-4 run from the 16 to 11-minute mark to build a 22-8 lead. From there, the Bucs basically maintained that advantage thanks to 50 percent shooting from the floor, ultimately holding a 39-27 advantage at the intermission.


            In the second half, the Bucs just could not get going offensively. In fact, ETSU would hit just five field goals after the break and allowed the Spartans to get within three points on a 3-pointer by Rashawn Brailsford with 10:03 left in the game. Luckily for the Bucs, they managed a 7-0 spurt to make it a 10-point game at the 7:48 mark, and the Spartans were only able to get as close as five points at 55-50 the rest of the game.


            For the game, ETSU hit on just 41 percent of its shots, but held the Spartans to 34 percent. The Bucs out-rebounded USC Upstate 36-35, and ETSU was a decisive 25-of-33 from the foul line for a 76 percent clip. The Spartans had 10 steals and forced 23 turnovers by the Bucs.


            ETSU will return to action Thursday night, hosting Campbell at 7 p.m. inside Memorial Center.  The Camels are coming off a win over Belmont at home Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, Upstate returns to league action at home against Gardner-Webb.