CHATTANOOGA (Nov. 17, 2009) - A double-double effort and career high 26 points from junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) were not enough to overcome ETSU's poor foul shooting and second half offensive struggles Tuesday night inside the McKenzie Arena, as the Buccaneers relinquished a nine-point second half lead to fall 85-76 to former Southern Conference rival Chattanooga.
The Bucs (1-1), who were a disappointing 14-of-29 from the charity stripe and hit only eight field goals in the second half, looked on as Chattanooga (2-0) went 22-of-27 from the foul line and outscored the Bucs 38-24 in the second half. ETSU senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) was in street clothes on the bench and his offensive presence was missed in the loss.
"We've struggled at the foul line in our first few games and it is a concern. If that continues this season like it did tonight, it will be a long year," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "We lost a lot of quality players from our team a year ago, and now having Mike out it is that much tougher. I thought we played hard and gave a lot of effort, but we just didn't get it done tonight. We're going to go back to work and continue to get better."
No one on the ETSU bench could have seen the second half offensive struggles coming, especially after the first half offensive blitz.
The first 20 minutes was an offensive clinic by both teams, as the Bucs and Mocs torched the nets for a combined 99 points, with ETSU hitting 51 percent of its field goals and UTC matching those numbers with a 50 percent clip from the floor.
There were eight ties and eight lead changes in the first 20 minutes, but it appeared Chattanooga was on its way to building a significant lead when Ridge McKeither's 3-pointer with 3:44 left before the intermission made it 47-40 in favor of the Mocs. However, ETSU answered in fine fashion by scoring 12 unanswered points to close out the first half with a 52-47 advantage.
Hubbard led the way in the first half, taking just 20 minutes to score 14 points and eclipse his previous career point total of 11. Six of Hubbard's points came from beyond three-point range, even though he had never hit a shot from beyond the arc in his previous two seasons with the Bucs.
In the second half, the Bucs built their lead to as many as nine points early in the second half at 58-49, but a four-minute scoring drought allowed the Mocs to rally and ultimately build a lead of six points at 68-62 with 8:03 left in the game. The Bucs couldn't rally from there and ultimately fell 85-76.
Hubbard finished with a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds, while sophomore forward Isiah Brown (Miami) posted 13 points and senior guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) pitched in 11. The Bucs shot 44 percent from the field, but only 48 percent from the foul line.
Meanwhile, Chattanooga's Keegan Bell had a team-high 23 points, with Ridge McKeither adding 17 and Josh Odem had 14.
In the paint, the Bucs held a 38-26 advantage scoring in the paint, but the Mocs held a 26-10 edge in points off turnovers.
There is no rest for the Bucs, who will return to action Thursday night on the road at Morgan State beginning at 7 p.m., while Louisville waits on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. For more on ETSU men's basketball throughout the 2009-10 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.