Nuckles powers overtime surge, ETSU drops Kennesaw, 78-66
Senior Eryk Thomas finished with his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior Eryk Thomas finished with his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Friday, January 19, 2007

             

            JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 19, 2007) - Senior forward Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) scored eight points and grabbed two critical defensive rebounds in overtime, while fellow senior forward Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif.) picked up his first career double-double to lead the ETSU men's basketball team to its third overtime victory of the season 78-66 over Kennesaw State Friday night in Atlantic Sun Conference play at Memorial Center.

 

            With a crowd of 4,729 looking on during a regionally televised game, the Bucs won their sixth straight game and now hold a 1 game lead on Belmont for the top spot in the A-Sun standings with an overall record of 14-7 and a league mark of 8-1. Nuckles finished with his fourth straight double-double, posting 18 points and 12 rebounds on the evening. Meanwhile, Thomas finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

 

            "We knew it was going to be a tough game and it was," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team dropped Kennesaw State to 8-13, 4-5. "We played a lackluster first half, a good second half, and a great overtime. Again, the defensive numbers won the game for us, but you can't say enough about Brad and Eryk. I'm proud of the way our guys continue to pull it out in close games. That tells you something about their character."

 

            In the first 20 minutes, ETSU rolled out to its largest lead at 8-2 just three minutes into the contest, but from there Kennesaw State slowly whittled away at the Bucs' advantage and took the lead on a Ronell Wooten dunk with just over nine minutes left in the first half. From there - even with star point guard Golden Ingle on the bench with two fouls - the Owls built their lead to as many as seven points at 29-22 with four minutes to go before the break. ETSU, which shot just 39 percent from the floor in the first half, did manage to pull to within five by halftime thanks to a pair of free throws by Thomas that made it 33-28.

 

            The second half saw the Bucs regain the lead at 46-45 on a Nuckles lay-up with 11:08 to go in the game. Kennesaw State battled back to tie it at 48-48, but from there ETSU built a lead of as many as eight points at 56-48 thanks to the fact Wooten went to the bench with his fourth foul. However, when Wooten returned the Owls regrouped and regained the advantage 59-58 on thanks to his 3-pointer with 2:21 left. From there, sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) hit a three to make it 61-59, but Kennesaw's Jon-Michael Nickerson would tie it on a lay-up with 20 seconds remaining.

 

            In the overtime, Nuckles scored four of the Bucs first six points and later pulled down two critical defensive rebounds. He was fouled on both plays and converted 5-of-6 foul shots down the stretch to put the Owls away.

 

            ETSU forced 19 KSU turnovers and grabbed 12 steals in the game, collecting an impressive 21 offensive rebounds. While the Bucs shot 44.6 percent from the floor, KSU connected on just 24-of-72 shots for a 33 percent clip.

 

            Along with Nuckles and Thomas, Pigram finished with 15 points and matched his career high for steals with six. Freshman guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) scored 10 points by setting a career high with an 8-of-8 effort from the charity stripe. Junior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) set a career high with five blocks.

 

            For KSU, Wooten posted a double-double with a game high 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Shuan Stegall scored 22. Ingle finished with a game-high 10 assists.

 

            The Bucs will return to action Thursday, Jan. 25 at Belmont, the first of a two-game road swing to the Music City. ETSU will later face Lipscomb on Jan. 27. Kennesaw State returns to action Jan. 25 at Lipscomb. For more on ETSU men's basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com.

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