JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 16, 2010) - In need of a bounce back performance, the ETSU men's basketball team used a tenacious defensive effort to hold Florida Gulf Coast to just 10 points in the first half and ultimately cruised to a decisive 73-51 victory in Atlantic Sun Conference play Saturday afternoon at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
The Buccaneers (9-9 overall, 5-2 A-Sun) ultimately forced the Eagles (5-12 overall, 2-6 A-Sun) into 26 turnovers and grabbed 11 steals, and held FGCU to 35 percent shooting from the floor and 23 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Meanwhile, the Bucs got a game-high 21 points from junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), and junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) pitched in 15 in the winning effort.
"I'm really proud of the way our team battled and came out ready to play today," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team was coming off a tough 54-52 loss to Stetson on Thursday night. "After the Stetson game, we were really disappointed, but this helps get us back on track and the guys responded well. I thought our effort on defense was really good tonight, and on the offensive end we were much better than we were against Stetson."
The Bucs, who remain just one game back in the loss column for first place in the league, will now prepare for an important two-game road swing through Nashville next weekend. The Bucs will meet Lipscomb on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m., followed by a Saturday afternoon matchup with Belmont at 5:30 p.m.
In the first half, ETSU fell behind 5-3 when a Reggie Chambers 3-pointer found the bottom of the net. However, from there the Bucs turned up the defensive pressure and used its trapping zone defense to stymie the Eagles. ETSU ultimately used a 17-0 run to power a strong first half and outscored FGCU 31-5 the rest of the half to lead 34-10 at the break.
It was the lowest first-half point total for an ETSU opponent this season.
The second half was no different, as the Bucs' advantage grew to as many as 33 points at 65-32 with 7:30 left in the contest. The Eagles battled back to cut the final deficit down to 22, but could not manage a significant comeback.
FGCU held a 46-38 edge on the glass, but most all the other statistical numbers favored the Bucs. ETSU shot 39 percent from the floor and 32 percent from 3-point range, hitting on a solid 68 percent from the free throw line. The Bucs went 23 of 34 shots from the line, while FGCU was just 11-of-25 at the charity stripe.
The Eagles were led by Anthony Banks' 15 points. No other FGCU player reached double figures.
For more on ETSU men's basketball throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.