LOUISVILLE (Nov. 21, 2009) - Outscoring No. 20 Louisville 35-32 in the second half, the ETSU men's basketball team did not back down from its Big East Conference foe, but the Buccaneers still could not overcome a tough first half offensively as they fell 69-56 to the Cardinals Saturday in front of 19,179 at historic Freedom Hall.
Junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) sank four 3-pointers in the second half and scored a game-high 18 points in a contest that saw the Buccaneers' defense hold Louisville to just 36 percent shooting from the floor. In addition, ETSU held its own on the glass against a much larger Louisville squad, finishing 44-44 in the rebounding category.
"I'm not one to be pleased with a loss, but I saw a lot of positives from our team tonight," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team will try to snap its current three-game losing streak Wednesday night at home against College of Charleston. "To come in here and play one of the nation's top teams - in front of a large, hostile crowd - and battle like we did is encouraging. The loss to Morgan State was a step back, but this was a step forward."
The Bucs stayed close in the early going, as a Tubbs' 3-pointer made it 10-7 in favor of ETSU with 15:04 left. However, from there the Bucs went cold and did not score a field goal for over 10 minutes of game play, allowing the Cardinals to pull away by as many as 17 with 1:32 left before the intermission. At the break, it was 37-21 in favor of the Cardinals.
ETSU did hold Louisville to 39 percent shooting in the first half and forced 10 turnovers, but the Cardinals dominated on the glass, besting the Bucs 25-14 in the paint. In addition, Louisville's defensive pressure held the Bucs to just 29 percent shooting from the field and 22 percent from 3-point range.
Yet in the second half, the Bucs reversed most of those trends, outrebounding Louisville 30-19 in the second half and making a more effective effort on the offensive end. Though the Cardinals built their lead to as many as 21 points with 15:14 left in the game, ETSU continued to claw and fight, ultimately hitting five 3-pointers as a team in the final 10 minutes of play to pull to within 11 at 67-56 with 52 seconds left in the game.
Along with Tubbs, the Bucs got 12 points from junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester), while junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) had nine points and nine boards. For Louisville, Edgar Sosa had a team-high 16 points, while Samardo Samuels added 14 and 11 rebounds in a double-double effort.
ETSU's issues offensively continued for a third straight game, as the Bucs hit on just 33 percent from the field and 57 percent from the foul line. The Bucs also committed 20 turnovers in the game. However, the Bucs did hold the Cardinals to just 20 percent shooting from 3-point range, usually a strength for Louisville teams.
The Bucs will return to action Wednesday night at 7 p.m., hosting former Southern Conference rival College of Charleston inside Memorial Center. For more on ETSU basketball throughout the 2009-10 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.