MACON, Ga. (Feb. 6, 2012) – The ETSU men’s basketball team did the job defensively Monday night against the Atlantic Sun Conference’s top team. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, their offensive effort was a different story.
Shooting just 27 percent from the floor for the game, the Buccaneers posted just 17 first-half points and dropped a 54-46 contest to the Mercer Bears Monday evening inside the University Center. With the win, Mercer improves to 19-7 overall, 11-2 in A-Sun play and remains atop the conference standings, while the Bucs fall to 12-11, 6-6.
“Again, we did a great job defensively and if you told me they would only have 54 points I would say we win the game,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “But offensively we struggled again. When our three seniors don’t play well or are off their game it is tough for us. I don’t want to put it all on them. It’s my fault too, but when the ball isn’t going in the basket things don’t look good.”
The Bucs held Mercer to just 37 percent shooting from the floor and an astounding six percent from 3-point range. However, the Bears out-rebounded the Bucs 42-31 and shot 83 percent (19-of-23) from the free throw line.
In what has become a theme for the season, the Buccaneers were extremely ineffective in the early going offensively, scoring just 17 points in the first half and shooting only 26 percent from the floor. Despite those issues, the Bucs led 14-13 with 8:02 left before the intermission, but looked on as the Bears went on an 11-3 run to close out the half.
The Bucs’ defense kept them in the game in the first half, forcing seven Mercer turnovers and denying the Bears from hitting any shots from 3-point range. However, Mercer dominated in the paint with a 21-13 advantage in rebounds, and outscored the Bucs 16-8 on points in the paint.
After the intermission, the Bucs methodically battled back and got to within three at 37-34 with 7:20 left on the clock. At that point, junior forward Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) had a chance to get the Bucs even closer, but after missing the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, Mercer took advantage and went on an 8-0 run to build a 45-34 lead with 5:15 remaining in the game.
The Bucs again answered with a 6-0 run of their own to make it 45-40, but after Mercer grabbed yet another offensive rebound on a missed shot, guard Travis Smith sank a basket to stop ETSU’s run and make it 47-40 with 1:37 left.
From there, the Bucs began fouling and were able to cut the lead to four at 50-46, but that would be as close as they would get.
ETSU was led offensively by a 13-point, eight-rebound effort from senior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), while junior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) pitched in 11. For Mercer, Bud Thomas, Langston Hall and Smith scored 11 points apiece.
The Bucs will return to action on Saturday at home against North Florida. Game time for that contest is set for 4 p.m. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.