Back-to-back titles! Bucs dancing again with win over Mercer in A-Sun final, 72-66
Junior guard Micah Williams was named tournament MVP, scoring 13 points in the win and averaging 22 a game during the tournament.
Junior guard Micah Williams was named tournament MVP, scoring 13 points in the win and averaging 22 a game during the tournament.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

 

                MACON, Ga. (March 6, 2010) - A 2009-10 season that began with the tragic death of rising sophomore Seth Coy (Washington, Ind.) in a car accident ended in celebration Saturday evening, as the ETSU men's basketball team earned its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of a 72-66 win over host Mercer in the finals of the 2010 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at the University Center.

 

            In a game that featured four lead changes and four ties, the Buccaneers (20-14) never led by more than seven points in the second half, but made plays down the stretch to get the win. Among those plays were a timely 3-pointer from junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) with just over a minute to play that made it a 65-61 game, a drawn charge by freshman forward J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.) on Mercer's next possession with 59 seconds left, and a 9-of-12 effort from the foul line over the final minute.  

 

            With the win, the Bucs will make the program's ninth trip all-time to the NCAAs, which includes four trips to the dance over the last eight

years. And the Bucs also enjoy their third A-Sun title in four seasons.

 

            "What a great effort from our players," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, who has now led the Bucs to four 20-wins seasons, four conference titles, and four postseason tournaments in his seven seasons at ETSU. "I love our coaching staff and what they do, but it comes down to those guys on the floor making plays, and throughout this tournament our guys have done that.

 

            "For this team to overcome Seth's loss, and the injury to Mike (Smith) says a lot about them. This is very special for our team and our university."

 

            The Bucs placed three players on the all-tournament squad, led by tournament MVP Micah Williams (Manchester), who posted 13 points against the Bears on Saturday and averaged 22 a game during the three-game stretch. Meanwhile, Tubbs and junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) joined Williams, as Tubbs pitched in a game-high 18 points and Hubbard added 14 in the victory.

 

            Other ETSU players in double figures scoring included sophomore post Isiah Brown (Miami) with 12, while sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) - wearing Coy's No. 43 jersey - came off the bench to score 11 points and dish out three assists. The Bears were led by E.J. Kusyner with 16 points, while Brandon Moore netted 13.

 

            Playing in front of a raucous sold-out crowd on Mercer's home floor, the Bucs stormed out of the gate in the first half with a strong inside attack and led 21-10 early on. However, the Bears would outscore the Bucs 25-13 over the next 10 minutes to take the lead at 35-34. Kusyner powered the run by hitting four of his game-high five 3-pointers during that run. The Bucs, though, finished the first half with a 3-0 spurt to lead 37-35 at the break.

 

            In the second half, ETSU led 52-45 only to see the Bears tie it at 60 with 2:11 left in the contest. At that point, Williams hit a pair of free throws and with the game at 62-61, Tubbs buried his double-clutched 3-pointer to give the Bucs a 65-61 edge. Sollazzo then made it 67-61 with a pair of free throws with 57 seconds left, but Mercer rallied to cut it to 68-66 on a pair of free throws from Daniel Emerson with 34 seconds remaining. From there, though, the Bucs went 4-of-5 at the line and made two defensive stops to seal the victory.

 

            Defensively, the Bucs were outstanding, holding a strong offensive team to just 66 points, forcing 16 turnovers and holding the Bears to just 42 percent shooting for the game.

 

            ETSU will now wait for next Sunday's NCAA Selection show to learn where they are headed for the postseason. For more on ETSU men's basketball during March Madness, visit ETSUBucs.com.

 

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