JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 11, 2011) - Putting together a dominating offensive effort in the first half, the ETSU men's basketball team built a 24-point halftime lead and held off a Jacksonville rally late in the second half to take an 80-64 win in Atlantic Sun Conference play Friday evening inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
A crowd of 3,890 fans looked on as the Buccaneers improved to 18-9 overall, 13-3 in A-Sun play, building a two-game lead over Jacksonville for second place in the conference standings. Meanwhile, the Dolphins dropped to 16-8, 10-5.
"If you told me before the game that we will win by 16 I would obviously take it," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team has won 14 of its last 16 games. "I thought offensively we played as well as we have all year in the first half. The second half was not exactly what we like to see, but we'll take the win."
The Buccaneers shot 55 percent from the field in the first half and dominated statistically. But after the break, Jacksonville managed to battle back into the game and cut the ETSU lead to just 10 points at 70-60 with 3:09 left in the contest. However, the Bucs then hit 10-of-10 from the line to ice the victory.
ETSU put four players in double figures, with senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) leading the way with a game-high 23 points. Meanwhile, fellow senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) posted 21 points, while junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) had 13 points and seven assists. Junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami) also had a strong showing, posting a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bucs roared out of the gates in the first half, as Smith scored 11 of the Bucs first 22 points and ETSU led 22-7 with 14 minutes left on the clock. JU managed to battle back at that point, going on a 15-6 run of its own to cut the deficit to just six at 28-22 on back-to-back lay ups from Ayron Hardy.
However, ETSU was unfazed by the Dolphins' rally, as the Bucs bombed away from the field and from 3-point range. ETSU ultimately went on a 23-5 run to close out the half and enjoyed a 51-27 edge at the break.
ETSU shot a blistering 55 percent from the field before the intermission and held JU to just 39 percent shooting. The Bucs outrebounded the Dolphins 22-17, and dished out 10 assists as a squad. Smith finished with 17 points in the early going, while Williams pitched in 13.
In the second half, JU still trailed 68-48 with 8:10 and began its comeback. Holding ETSU scoreless for the next 4:05, the Dolphins ultimately made it 68-57 before the Bucs got back on the board with a layup from Williams. Later, Jacksonville made it 70-60 before ETSU put it away.
The Dolphins got double-figure scoring from four players, led by a team-high 13 from Keith McDougald.
For the game, ETSU shot 48 percent from the floor, while hitting 43 percent from 3-point range. JU shot 41 percent for the game, but just 22 percent from beyond the arc. More impressively for ETSU, the Bucs hit 75.9 percent (22-of-29) from the foul line.
ETSU will wrap up its home schedule on Sunday, hosting North Florida as part of Senior Day at the Dome. Tip is set for 4 p.m. For more on ETSU men's basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.