Smith's heroics lift Jacksonville over ETSU, 82-72
Friday, January 30, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 30, 2009) - Jacksonville guard Ben Smith sank a game-tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in regulation, and the Dolphins outscored the ETSU men's basketball team 14-4 in the overtime to take an 82-72 win over the Buccaneers Friday evening inside the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.


With the win, Jacksonville (12-8, 10-1) moves into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference, while the Bucs (15-6, 9-2) fall into a tie for second place with Belmont.


"It's a tough loss, but it just counts as one win or one loss," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "The game Sunday at North Florida is just as important, and now we have to refocus and prepare for that one. Give Jacksonville credit. They made plays when they needed to and we just couldn't get enough stops late. We've had 11 tight games like this one this year and we're 7-4 in those games. We just didn't get this one tonight."


The Buccaneers took the lead at 9-8 with 13:55 left in the first half, and the Bucs enjoyed an advantage of as many as 15 points in the first 20 minutes. The second half was much of the same for ETSU, but holding a 65-59 lead with just over three minutes left, the Bucs looked on as the Dolphins outside shooting ultimately tied the game. A 3-pointer by senior guard Evan Jefferson with 3:15 left and another by Smith two minutes later tied the game at 65-65, but a layup and foul shot by ETSU freshman Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) pushed the advantage back to 68-65 with 14 seconds left.


Smith then shot from 26 feet away from the basket and hit to tie the game at 68 with 10 seconds left. ETSU quickly inbounded the ball and raced to the other end, where senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) had a good opportunity to score but his shot rimmed out.


In the overtime, Jacksonville carried on its momentum, with senior forward Marcus Allen giving JU its first lead since early in the first half with a layup to open the scoring and make it 70-68. From there, Smith scored six more points to finish with 26 and outscore the Bucs 14-4 in the overtime.


For the game, junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) finished with a double-double on 18 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, while sophomore guard Micah Williams (Manchester) added 14 on a career best four 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Sollazzo finished with a personal best 12 points, while seniors Tiggs and guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) each posted 10 points apiece.


For Jacksonville, Smith netted a game-high 26, while Allen finished with 17, forward Lehmon Colbert had 16, and sophomore Ayron Hardy had 10. Colbert had a double-double with 11 rebounds.


ETSU committed 19 turnovers and was outrebounded 46-34, giving up 20 offensive rebounds to Jacksonville while grabbing just eight offensive boards.


The Bucs will return to action Sunday at 2 p.m. against North Florida.