JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 21, 2011) - Senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) grabbed a critical offensive rebound with 18.9 seconds left and scored a team-high 20 points to lead the ETSU men's basketball team to a hard fought 68-67 win over Atlantic Sun Conference rival Lipscomb Friday evening inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
After junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) hit the front end of a two-shot foul with 18.9 second left and made it 65-62, Smith battled through the lane and pulled away the rebound on Brown's second-shot miss. That resulted in another make at the line by fellow senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) to give the Bucs a four point edge with 13.7 seconds left. The advantage proved to be enough even though another basket and a last second 3-pointer by Lipscomb's Josh Slater ultimately made the score 68-67.
With the win, ETSU picked up its ninth straight victory and improved to 13-7 overall, 8-1 in A-Sun play, setting up a monumental matchup with league-leading Belmont Sunday inside the Dome at 4 p.m. With the loss, Lipscomb dropped to 10-8, 5-4.
"We continue to get it done at home, and that's something we consistently talk about," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "Lipscomb is a very good team with two of the best players in our league. Coming out on top just makes the game Sunday against Belmont that much bigger. The crowd was great tonight and we hope there are even more people here on Sunday to help us."
In the first half, Lipscomb took its one and only lead of the game at 3-2 after a free throw by guard Jordan Burgason. From there, the two teams traded baskets until five minutes left in the half with the score at 21-19. At that point, the Bucs proceeded to outscore the Bisons 17-9 to close out the half and take a 38-28 lead into the locker room.
Despite the 10-point edge, ETSU could not hold Lipscomb down as the Bisons went on a 16-6 run to open the second half and tie the game at 44. Lipscomb later tied it at 48, but from there the Bucs pulled back ahead by six at 59-53 with just over five minutes left in the game.
The Bisons would not get closer than two points until 1.1 second left in the game when Slater's fall-away 3-pointer found the mark to make it 68-67.
Smith led the way with 20, while Brown and junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) each scored 10. Slater needed a game-high 27, while senior forward Adnan Hodzic posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Bucs shot 46 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Bisons 34-33. ETSU also held a 34-26 edge on points in the paint.
ETSU will now prepare for Belmont, who enters Sunday's matchup at 9-0 in the A-Sun and receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll. For more on ETSU basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com.