FORT MYERS, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2009) -- Suffering through several scoring droughts and ultimately posting a poor offensive effort, the ETSU men's basketball team was stunned Monday evening inside Alico Arena, falling to Florida Gulf Coast 64-61 in Atlantic Sun Conference play.
With the loss, the Buccaneers drop to 11-5 overall, 5-1 in A-Sun play, while the Eagles improve to 8-10, 4-3.
"We just didn't get it done," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "This is a disappointing loss because we didn't play well, but we have to move on. We're still 11-5 on the year and we're 5-1 in the league even though we've only played two league games at home. We're still in first place and going home for four straight, so we need to regroup and move forward."
Early on the Bucs opened up a 16-8 margin, after Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) drilled a three with 11:59 left in the first half. FGCU's Delvin Franklin knocked down a free throw with 7:08 left to cut the margin to four points at 23-19, but FGCU was unable to get any closer in the first half. ETSU ended the first half on a 6-0 run to carry a 30-22 lead into the break.
FGCU came out in the second half and jumped on the Bucs right away, pulling even at 36-36 just 3:28 into the half. But ETSU would respond with a 9-1 run to regain their eight-point edge with 13:37 left. The Bucs would hold on to a healthy lead for awhile, and after an Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) dunk, ETSU held a 51-42 lead with 10:57 to play. The Eagles quickly cut into the nine-point lead, as Reggie Chambers knocked down a jumper and a three-pointer and Ed Rolax hit a pair of free throws to pull within 2 at 51-49.
Once again the Bucs responded, running off six straight points to reassert an eight-point lead with 6:55 remaining in the game. A few minutes later, Franklin connected on a three-point shot to bring the Eagles back to within 3 points at 59-56. Kevin Tigg,s (Flint, Mich.) of ETSU knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:28 left, giving the Bucs a 61-57 lead. After Kyle Marks' shot was blocked by Isiah Brown, Derrick O'Neil drew a foul and hit both free throws, advancing the score to 61-59 with 1:11 to go. On the Bucs next possession Chambers picked Courtney Pigram's (Memphis) pocket and ran the floor to perfection, hitting a layup and drawing a foul from Smith. With the scored tied at 61 and just 37 seconds remaining, Chambers connected on the free throw to give FGCU a one-point lead.
After ETSU called a timeout, the Bucs held the ball until about seven seconds left. Pigram handed off to Brown for the last shot, but Brown's 18-foot jumper was too strong, and the Eagles' Franklin pulled down the rebound off the back iron. Franklin hit both free throws at the other end, and Pigram's last second prayer was not answered, and FGCU held on for a 64-61 victory.
For the Buccaneers (11-5, 5-1), Jarvis Jones (Memphis) and Tiggs each had a team-high 13 points, and Tiggs also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds with a game-high five steals. Pigram scored 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting and also dished out a game-high eight assists. Smith added 10 points and 7 boards as well.
For the Eagles (8-10, 4-3), Franklin led all scorers with 18 points in addition to grabbing seven rebounds. Reed Baker scored 12 points in addition to swiping seve steals, the most this year by an Eagle and tied for the second most in school history.
The Bucs will return to Johnson City for a four-game homestand that will begin with Lipscomb at 4 p.m. on Saturday, followed by Belmont on Monday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.