COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 24, 2008) - Building a 14-point halftime lead and surviving a second half rally which cut that advantage to just three points, the ETSU men's basketball team picked up a win in its first non-conference road game of the season, downing in-state and former Ohio Valley Conference rival Tennessee Tech 78-65 Monday evening inside the Eblen Center.
A short-handed Buccaneer squad - now playing without senior guard Jocolby Davis (wrist/hand) and freshman Seth Coy (foot) who was injured over the weekend when a teammate stepped on his foot in practice - got a game-high 23 points from senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), 22 points from senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), and junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) picked up his second career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds to pick up the win.
With the victory, ETSU improves to 3-2 on the year, while Tennessee Tech dropped to 3-1.
"Any win on the road is a good win," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, who picked up his 98th victory at ETSU since coming to Johnson City in 2003-04. "I was really proud of our guys. With Seth going down, Greg Hamlin and Isiah Brown really stepped up inside for us. And what can you say about Kevin, Courtney and Mike. They continue to play well and really help us."
While that trio spurred the offensive effort, the Bucs' defense was equally impressive, holding the Golden Eagles to 33 percent shooting from the floor and 22 percent from beyond the 3-point line. On the glass and in the paint, ETSU dominated 42-31 and grabbed 30 defensive boards to just 18 for Tennessee Tech. Offensively, the Bucs hit on 46 percent of their shots and were 78 percent from the foul line.
But even with the strong statistical numbers, the Bucs still had to battle for the win.
After getting the lead to 16 on an early bucket by Brown in the opening seconds of the second half, the Bucs were unable to keep the Golden Eagles down. After a basket by Smith made it 46-34 with 16:11 remaining in regulation, Tennessee Tech put together a 10-1 run to make it 47-44 with 11:15 remaining on the clock. However, from there Tiggs scored 10 of his 23 to stop the Eagle run and build the lead back to 13 at 67-54 with 3:34 left on the clock. The Bucs iced the game at the foul line at that point, and never allowed Tech to threaten.
The first half saw the Bucs put together arguably their best all-around 20 minutes of season. As a team, ETSU hit on 45 percent of its shots from the field, 50 percent from beyond the 3-point line and 79 percent from the charity stripe, all the while getting the job done defensively by holding the Golden Eagles to just 29 percent shooting from the floor and 16.7 percent from beyond the arc. On the boards, ETSU held a 25-16 advantage, including an edge of 7-5 on the offensive glass.
The ultimate result of those numbers for the Bucs was a lead of as many as 16 points twice, and a 40-26 advantage at the intermission.
For Tech, Daniel Northern led the way with 20 points, while Will Barnes and D.J. Lindsay pitched in 13 and 10 points, respectively.The Bucs will return to action Saturday on the road at Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley. Game time in Peoria, Ill., is set for 8 p.m. (EST).