First half attack lifts ETSU past UNC Asheville, 73-65
First half attack lifts ETSU past UNC Asheville, 73-65
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

                JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 19, 2006) - Thanks to a stingy defensive effort and pinpoint shooting, the ETSU men's basketball team returned from a 10-day break for final exams with a mission against UNC Asheville, racing out to a 22-point halftime lead and ultimately defeating the Bulldogs 73-65 Tuesday night in front of 3,612 fans at Memorial Center.


            With the win, ETSU improves to 7-5 on the season, while UNC Asheville drops to 4-7. The Bucs will wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule and try to finish their current three-game home stand undefeated when they return to action Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Radford.


            "It was a good win," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "I think we played hard with a lot of energy. We've had some of our best practices of the year the last four or five days, and I think that showed today. I was disappointed in the final two minutes of the game, but I was pretty pleased with the first 38. We were concerned about Asheville. They just beat Furman on the road, and that's a Furman team that beat Vanderbilt, which is a team we know a lot about. I think our defense in the first half was very important and helped us get them out of some things."


            For the Bucs, sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) led the way with a game-high 17 points and six steals, while also dishing out five of the Bucs' 22 team assists. Along with Pigram, three other ETSU players reached double figures, with junior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) matching his season high with 15 points, while senior posts Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) and Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif.) added 12 and 11 points, respectively.


            In the first half it was obvious the Bucs had used their break for finals as a chance to regain their energy. Utilizing a man-to-man trapping defense and shooting 53 percent from the floor, ETSU roared out of the gate and went on a 29-7 run to start the game, ultimately leading 44-22 at the half. Reed led in the way with 12 points including a slam dunk with two seconds on the clock. He was joined in double figures by Pigram with 11, while Nuckles pitched in eight points before the break. The 44-point effort was one point shy of the Bucs' best offensive first half of the season, which came against Southern back in the South Padre Island Invitational.


            In the second half, the two teams basically traded baskets until the final two minutes of the contest when Bartow subbed out his remaining five bench players. Asheville took advantage with a 16-1 run to make a 72-49 game a 73-65 final score.


The Bucs totaled a season high 17 steals and forced 25 UNCA turnovers, shooting 45 percent from the floor for the game and 44 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Asheville out-rebounded the Bucs 44-31.


ETSU returns to action Thursday night against Radford, another non-league foe out of the Big South Conference. Tip is set for 7 p.m. The game will be available on live video stream at