JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 15, 2011) – Forcing 29 turnovers and swiping 18 steals, the ETSU men’s basketball team imposed its defensive will on former Southern Conference rival Appalachian State Tuesday evening, dropping the Mountaineers 81-68 in the Buccaneers’ regular season home opener at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
The Bucs had four players reach double-figure scoring on the night, led by senior guard Tommy Hubbard (Boston) with a game-high 23 points. In addition, senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) netted 16 points, senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) added 12 points, and junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) pitched in 11 in the winning effort.
A crowd of 3,789 looked on as ETSU improved to 1-1 on the year, while the Mountaineers dropped to 1-1.
“This is a good win for us because obviously they are a close rival school,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “Forcing those turnovers early on and throughout the game really got us going and helped us offensively. I thought we shot the ball better tonight than we did in our opener at Virginia Tech, and Tommy Hubbard was Tommy Hubbard. He just battles and makes plays.”
The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Mountaineers, who were assessed a technical foul for dunking during pregame warm-ups. The result was a pair of made free throws from Dubose and a 2-0 lead for the Bucs before the game even tipped off.
From there, it only got worse for ASU. The Bucs’ defensive pressure in the first half was impressive, forcing Appalachian State into multiple turnovers from the outset and by the end of the half ETSU had collected 13 steals and forced 20 turnovers by the Mountaineers.
That defensive pressure led to a lead of as many as 19 points for the Bucs, who held a 39-23 advantage at the intermission. In all, the Bucs outscored Appy State 26-8 in the paint and 21-4 off turnovers in the first half, with Hubbard leading all scorers with 13 points.
In the second half, ETSU maintained its double-digit lead for most of the way, but with six minutes left, App State produced a 7-0 run over the next minute of play to make it 67-60. However, from there the Bucs answered with their own 7-0 spurt to end the threat and put the game away.
Appalachian State got a team-high 18 points from guard Jamaal Trice, while Isaac Butts posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
For the contest, the Bucs held a 32-18 edge in points off turnovers, and a 48-34 advantage on points in the paint. Meanwhile, Appalachian State dominated the boards 46-33 and grabbed 23 offensive rebounds.
The Bucs shot 47 percent from the floor, while holding Appy State to 39 percent from the floor, and 19 percent from 3-point range.
ETSU will return to action at home Saturday, taking on Troy at 4 p.m. inside the Dome. The Bucs will also play Appalachian State again this season, traveling to Boone, N.C., on Dec. 10.
For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.