JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 5, 2010) - USC Upstate forward Chalmers Rogers picked the perfect time to score his only two points of the game, laying in a basket with three seconds remaining to give the Spartans a 60-59 win over ETSU Sunday afternoon in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener for both teams at the G.B. Hodge Center.
On a day when the Spartans were dedicating their $4 million renovation of the G.B. Hodge Center, the Buccaneers struggled offensively throughout the contest. Shooting just 33.8 percent for the game, the Bucs still took 19 more shots from the field than Upstate and outrebounded the Spartans 48-34.
However, the only statistic that really matters did not go the Bucs' way - the score.
"We just weren't very good offensively," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team dropped to 3-3 overall, 0-1 in A-Sun play. "But I want people to know we were ready for this game. Our shoot around was good, and the effort was good. The ball just wasn't going in for us.
"Anyone that thought this was a give-me game is nuts. We've been fortunate the last few years to win some close games with these guys. This time it went their way."
Despite the offensive woes, the Bucs managed to tie the game at 58-58 on a pair of free throws by junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) with 1:17 left in the game. From there, Upstate (2-6 overall, 1-0 A-Sun) turned the ball over at the top of the key and junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) raced to the other end.
Sollazzo was fouled on the play and hit one-of-two free throws to give the Bucs only their second lead of the game. But more importantly than the lead, sophomore forward J.C. Ward (Marietta) made an important hustle play, tapping the ball back out to Sollazzo and giving the Bucs another possession with 50 seconds left in the game. The Bucs missed on that scoring opportunity though, giving Upstate a shot at the win with 13.5 seconds left.
Rogers' heroics came after Upstate guard Carter Cook went up for an apparent shot, but lost the ball. Even though it appeared to be heading out of bounds, freshman guard Torrey Craig managed to grab it and flip to Rogers for the game winner.
Craig's hustle play was just an exclamation point on a great game, as he posted a career best 18 points and enjoyed a double-double thanks to 15 rebounds. He was joined in double figures with 12 points by Josh Chavis.
The first half looked like a typical game for the Bucs at USC Upstate, a place where ETSU has consistently struggled to find an offensive rhythm in years past. While the Bucs held the Spartans in check with just 29 points in the half, ETSU responded with only 24 points of its own.
In all, the Bucs shot just 24 percent in the first half (9-of-38) and hit only two 3-pointers before the break. ETSU took 12 more shots than the Spartans, but connected on two less field goals than Upstate.
The Bucs were led in the losing effort by junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami) with 16 points, while senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) had 15 points and fellow senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) had 11.
ETSU has no time to lick its wounds, as the Bucs will take on former Southern Conference rival College of Charleston on Tuesday at 7 p.m. That game will air regionally on CSS.
For more on ETSU men's basketball throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.