JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 17, 2008) - In a battle that live up to the rivalries long and storied history, senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) scored 30-plus points for the third time in four games and fellow senior Courtney Pigram (Memphis) added 24 as the ETSU men's basketball team dropped in-state foe Chattanooga 82-70 Wednesday night in non-conference action at Memorial Center.
A crowd of 3,102 watched the Bucs move to 7-3 on the season, while the Mocs dropped to 1-7 on the year. With the win, ETSU improved to a perfect 3-0 against former Southern Conference foes Marshall, Appalachian State and Chattanooga.
"Again, what else can you say about the Big Three, they are just playing great and they stepped up again," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, referencing Tiggs, Pigram and junior guard Mike Smith. "To be 7-3 is obviously a great start and to beat a Chattanooga team that I think could be a NCAA Tournament team by the end of the year says something. They have good players and are well coached. That was a great win for us."
Tiggs finished with a career and game high 32 points, meaning the senior has now scored 115 points in his last four games - Marshall (31), Mercer (21), Appalachian State (31) and Chattanooga (32). Meanwhile, Pigram posted a 20-plus point game for the fifth time this season, while Smith scored in double figures (10) for the ninth time in 10 games this year. The Bucs shot 48 percent from the floor and held UTC to just a 31 percent clip on the night.
For Chattanooga, Stephen McDowell led the way with 28, while both Nicchaeus Doaks and Ty Patterson posted 10 each.
The Mocs opened the game on fire from the field, producing a 10-2 offensive run to build a 21-10 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the half and causing Bartow to take a 30-second timeout to stem the tide. It worked, and ETSU responded by outscoring the Mocs 21-10 over the next nine minutes to tie the game at 31-31 with six minutes left on the clock.
ETSU then used another 10-0 run to take the lead at 41-36 with two minutes left in the half, but Chattanooga responded and a layup by Keyron Sheard tied the game 41-41 at the break. The Bucs shot 46 percent from the field in the first half compared to 33 percent for the Mocs, but UTC got eight more shots from the field to make up the difference in percentage.
As they did at Appalachian State, the Buccaneers opened the second half with a flurry on the offensive end, highlighted by a three from Pigram, as well as a three and dunk by Tiggs. The result was a 16-4 start to the half and a 57-45 ETSU advantage with 16:45 left in the game.
However, with Tiggs in foul trouble and on the bench with four personals, UTC slowly chipped away at the Bucs' lead over the next 11 minutes and manufactured a 7-0 run to make it a 68-67 game with just over four minutes left. A basket by Tiggs broke the string and made it 70-67, and from there a pair of free throws by Smith and another four straight from Tiggs made it 76-67 with just over a minute left in the game. The run ended Chattanooga's hopes for a win.
The Bucs return to action on the road for their final Atlantic Sun Conference game of 2008, facing off with Kennesaw State on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m. For more on ETSU men's basketball throughout the 2008-09 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.