JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 9, 2009) - Senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) missed a running jumper with three seconds remaining in regulation, as Stetson held on for an upset win over first-place ETSU 64-63 Monday evening inside Memorial Center.
The Buccaneers (17-7, 11-3) did not lead at any point in the game, but managed to overcome an 11-point deficit over the final five minutes and pulled to within one following a made free throw by forward Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) with 1:34 left in the game. From there, the Bucs made a pair of defensive stops but Pigram missed on two different opportunities to give ETSU the lead in the final minute as Stetson (11-12, 8-7) garnered the win.
"We're just really disappointed," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team once again finds itself in a tie with Jacksonville for first place in the league standings. "We got off to a terrible start, but we fought hard at the end to get back in the game. It just wasn't enough. I liked the look we got at the end and a I think CP makes that shot seven out of 10 times. It just didn't go tonight."
The rally during the final minutes washed away what was an otherwise forgettable evening for the Bucs. Stetson opened the game with a 3-point flurry in the first half, hitting on 10-of-20 long-range bombs to take a 41-33 advantage into the break.
In the second half, the Bucs' fullcourt press finally subdued the Stetson attack and held the Hatters to just 32 percent shooting from the floor and only 23 points in the final 20 minutes. However, as the Hatters struggled the Bucs did not exactly flourish offensively either, hitting on just 36 percent from the floor and going 12-of-18 at the foul line.
In fact, Stetson scored the first five points of the second half to take their largest lead of the game at 46-33, and the Hatters basically held a lead of seven to 10 points from the 14-minute mark until a foul shot by Garfield Blair made it 64-56 with 3:47 left in the game. From there, ETSU got stop after stop defensively and slowly got back into the game. However, ETSU's 7-0 run to close out the contest came up one point shy of forcing overtime or one basket short of the victory.
For the game, ETSU hit on just 41 percent of its shots, but held Stetson to 39 percent shooting. The Bucs forced 20 turnovers by the Hatters, but were outrebounded 40-36. And the stat of the game for ETSU was at the foul line, where the Bucs struggled to go 18-of-29 for a 62 percent clip.
For ETSU, senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) led the way with a game-high 24 points, while Pigram finished with 17. For Stetson, Mark Lohuis scored a team high 13, while both Blair and Kris Thomas pitched in 10 apiece.
ETSU now heads back on the road for a daunting four-game road swing that will include a pair of must-win games this weekend at Belmont on Saturday, Feb. 14, and then on the road at Lipscomb on Monday, Feb. 16. Game times for both games in Nashville are 8 p.m. (EST).