NASHVILLE (Feb. 19, 2011) - Entering Saturday's game, the ETSU men's basketball team had enjoyed its share of success against Lispcomb's talented senior class, winning games in a multitude of unbelievable storylines and going 6-2 against the Bisons over the past four seasons.
However, nothing before had ever matched what happened on this night.
In a double overtime game that ultimately saw Lipscomb's talented All-Atlantic Sun Conference seniors Adnan Hodzic and Josh Slater on the bench with five fouls, the Buccaneers overcame the loss of senior leader Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) to an early ankle injury and got great contributions throughout its lineup to pick up a classic 102-95 victory over the Bisons, ruining Senior Night for Lipscomb Saturday evening inside the Allen Arena.
"I just can't say enough about our guys - they all contributed and it was just a great team effort," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 20-10 overall, 15-4 in A-Sun play and wrapped up the second seed in next month's A-Sun Tournament. "Lipscomb is a really good team and have some talented players. To beat them on Senior Night and in this fashion is remarkable. And everyone on our team made plays to make it happen."
Twice Lipscomb hit shots in the final seconds to force additional time, but at the end of the night the Bucs outlasted the Bisons thanks primarily to a game-high 27 points from senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester), a double-double effort with 22 points and 11 rebounds from junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), and 20 points from senior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.). Junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) also added 14 points in the winning effort.
ETSU shot 45.6 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Bisons 51-36. Both teams shot 74 percent from the foul line.
The first half started with Tubbs going to the bench early with a pair of fouls in the first three minutes, and then Smith left with his left ankle injury with 11:11 remaining on the clock. Lipscomb took advantage of the Bucs' personnel issues, going on a 15-2 run to build a 27-16 edge with nine minutes left in the half.
With Tubbs and Smith out, it resulted in more playing time for bench players such as junior forward Curtis Wilkinson (Bude, Miss.), and the 6-foot-8 junior college transfer did not disappoint. Despite not playing in the Bucs' last five games, Wilkinson scored five points, blocked three shots, grabbed six rebounds and even picked up a steal in 13 minutes of action in the first half, helping the Bucs outscore Lipscomb 21-14 the rest of the half and make it 41-37 at the break.
In the second half, Lipscomb led by 10 at 50-40 and later by a score of 58-51, but ETSU finally managed to respond with a 10-2 run to claim a 61-60 lead. The spurt was highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from Tubbs.
The Bucs later led by six at 72-66, but Lipscomb came back to tie it with a 6-0 run that made it 72-72. ETSU regained the lead at 76-74 on a Sollazzo jumper with 3.7 seconds left, but Arnett tied it with a buzzer-beating jumper as time expired, forcing the first overtime.
In the first overtime period, the game was like a boxing match with each team taking shots and connecting. Slater scored eight straight for the Bisons, but a pair of 3-pointers from Williams and another long-range bomb from Tubbs gave ETSU the edge at 87-84 with 1:09 left.
After a Williams made free throw, Hodzic completed a 3-point play to make it 88-87 in favor of ETSU. Sophomore forward Lukas Poderis (Tampa) later followed with a rebound on a Williams miss, getting fouled on the play and making the second of two foul shots to make the score 88-86 with 10 seconds left.
However, Slater would be fouled on the ensuing possession with 2.7 seconds on the clock, and hit both free throws to force a second overtime period.
In the second overtime, the Bucs went up 96-93 when Lipscomb's Slater left the game after committing an offensive foul on a drive to the basket. This left the Bisons without both Arnett and Slater and 3:11 left on the clock.
Lipscomb later lost Brandon Barnes with five fouls after technicals were assessed to both Barnes and ETSU's Brown. After making it 96-95, Lipscomb then said goodbye to Hodzic when he fouled Sollazzo on a drive to the basket with 57.3 seconds left.
Sollazzo hit both foul shots to make it 98-95, and Lipscomb then missed a 3-pointer by junior Barndon Burgason. Poderis got the rebound and Williams was later fouled. The senior guard hit both shots, making it 100-95 with 26.4 seconds left and from there the Bucs put the game away.
For Lipscomb, Slater finished with a game-high 27 points, while Hodzic had 18. They were joined by Arnett and Burgason with 12 apiece.
The Bucs will now move on to their season finale Thursday at Campbell. Game time in Buies Creek is set for 7:30 p.m.
For more on ETSU men's basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.