Belmont overcomes late deficit to drop Bucs in overtime, 75-74
Belmont overcomes late deficit to drop Bucs in overtime, 75-74
Tuesday, January 2, 2007


                JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 2, 2007) - In a game that featured 10 ties and 22 lead changes, the Belmont Bruins overcame a four-point deficit with just over two minutes left in overtime to take a 75-74 win over the ETSU Buccaneers in Atlantic Sun Conference play Tuesday night inside Memorial Center.


            With the game tied 70-70 at the end of regulation, the Bucs opened the overtime period with a pair of baskets by junior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) to take a 74-70 advantage. But after sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) missed a pair of free throws that would have made the lead six, Belmont answered with a jumper from Andrew Preston and a 3-pointer from Henry Harris to get the final advantage and improved to 9-5 overall, 3-0 in league play. A 3-pointer by Pigram missed at the buzzer, dropping the Bucs to 8-7, 2-1.


            "This is a tough loss," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team fell to 5-3 all-time against the Bruins. "It was a great game and could have gone either way, but this is our second straight year we've lost to them at home in overtime. Belmont is a good team, give them credit. We did some good things in regulation, but we just didn't make enough plays in overtime."   


            In the first half, Belmont utilized its inside players to hit several inside buckets and shoot a strong 55 percent from the field. While the Bucs led at 11-10 early on, the Bruins actually built the largest lead of the game at 22-15 with 11:17 remaining in the half. From there, the Bucs put their transition game in gear, resulting in five straight trips to the foul line and a 3-pointer from Pigram which gave them a pair a three-point leads at 33-30 and 35-32 with just over four minutes left in the half. Belmont got the last laugh, though, closing out the final minutes with a 7-0 run that gave them a 39-35 halftime advantage.


            The Bucs' quickly tied the game at 39-39 with two layups to open the scoring in the second half, but both teams basically traded scores the rest of the way. ETSU's largest lead of the half was three, while Belmont's was four. After Belmont guard Justin Hare tied the game with a bucket at the 1:35 mark, ETSU had two opportunities to win the game and Belmont's Preston missed a layup at the buzzer to force the overtime.


            Belmont shot 53 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Bucs 41-36. However, ETSU forced 22 turnovers compared to just 14 by Belmont, while also grabbing up 17 steals on the evening. Both teams shot poorly from the foul line, but ETSU's 11-of-23 effort overshadowed Belmont's 6-of-14 mark.


            The Bruins were led by Boomer Herndon with 15 points, while four other players reached double figures. Hare finished with 14 points, Preston posted 13, while Henry Harris and Matthew Dotson ended the game with 10 apiece. For ETSU, Reed scored a game and career-high 23 points, Pigram finished with 20, and freshman guard Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville) netted 10. Senior forward Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif.) grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.


            ETSU returns to action at home Thursday night against Lipscomb. Game time is set for 7 p.m. and former Buccaneer great Zakee Wadood will be honored as one of the program's all-time greats with a special replica jersey pin giveaway. Meanwhile, Belmont travels to face Kennesaw State as well Thursday.