JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 12, 2013) – Down 19 points to Florida Gulf Coast with 17 minutes left in the game, the ETSU men’s basketball team put five players on the floor – a group that included three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior.
That quintet turned out to be a fantastic five.
Led by a game-high 21 points from freshman forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) and double figure scoring efforts courtesy of senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis), freshman guard Mario Stramaglia (Birmingham, Ala.) and freshman point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.), the Buccaneers overcame a 55-36 deficit to dramatically drop league-leading Florida Gulf Coast 85-75 in Atlantic Sun Conference action Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
“I’ve been here 10 years and I can’t think of a better, tougher or grittier effort by five guys,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 4-13 overall, 2-2 in A-Sun play. “The story of the game was the last 15 minutes or so. We’ve had a tough year and a lot of setbacks, but we’re feeling pretty high right now.”
While Wilson led the way, Jones finished with 18 points, while Stramaglia and McClain pitched in 14 and 10, respectively. In addition, McClain dished out eight assists, while Stramaglia grabbed up five rebounds. Sophomore post John Walton (Memphis) was the fifth man in the fantastic five, finishing with eight points and five rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
Indeed, it was as if the 2,446 fans inside the Dome were watching ETSU’s youngsters grow up in front of them. After FGCU (12-7 overall, 4-2 A-Sun) seemed to have their way offensively at every turn during the first 23 minutes of play, the Bucs began their comeback with a 14-2 run in which Wilson, McClain and Stramaglia scored every point.
While FGCU responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 63-50 with 11:05 remaining in the contest, the Bucs did not back down as Wilson again answered with a 3-pointer and sparked the Bucs to a 35-12 run to close out the game.
The Eagles did manage to get to within four points at 79-75 and had possession of the ball with just under a minute remaining, but as the Eagles’ Bernard Thompson went up for an apparently open layup, Jones soared in at the last minute to block it away. Stramaglia picked up the loose ball and was fouled, subsequently hitting two free throws to basically ice the game.
After shooting 53 percent in the first half and connecting on 56 percent of their shots from 3-point range, the Eagles shot just 34.5 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range after the break.
Meanwhile, ETSU hit on 61 percent of its shots in the second half and was 50 percent from beyond the arc. In fact, the Bucs scored a season high 53 points in the second half, and also shot 88 percent from the foul line.
For FGCU, Sherwood Brown led the way with 17 points, while Christophe Varidel pitched in 14 points. In addition, Chase Fieler and Eric McKnight netted 12 and 11, respectively.
The Bucs will now hit the road to take on Mercer Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Macon, Ga. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.