BUIES CREEK, N.C. (Feb. 23, 2009) - With the door open and another shot to get back into the Atlantic Sun Conference race, the ETSU men's basketball team once again let the opportunity slip away.
Leading 56-46 with 8:15 left in the game, the Buccaneers imploded on both ends of the floor and looked on as Campbell outscored them 22-6 the rest of the way and picked up a 68-62 win over ETSU Tuesday night inside the new Gore Arena. The win snapped the Bucs 10-game winning streak all-time against the Camels, as the all-time series now stands to 10-1 in favor of ETSU.
The Bucs dropped to 18-10 on the year, 12-6 in A-Sun play, while Campbell improves to 13-15, 10-9 in league action. ETSU remains one game back of Belmont for second place in the league and are two games back of Jacksonville with two games left to play in the regular season.
"We were in position to win and up 10 with seven minutes left to play," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "We just went south on both ends and didn't make any plays. We're obviously disappointed because we all knew what was at stake and on the line. Now we just have to try and regroup."
For the second game in the row, the Bucs started the contest without senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) in the lineup, and freshman point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa, Fla.) took that opportunity to distribute the ball to several Buccaneers. Sollazzo had 10 first half assists and scored six points, while Smith collected 12 points and five rebounds to stake ETSU to a 38-30 halftime advantage.
The lead could have been greater as ETSU had built a 38-24 edge with just over one minute left in the first half, but the Camels responded with a 6-0 spurt to close the half. The Bucs shot 46 percent from the floor, 40 percent from beyond the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line in the first half.
In the second half, the Bucs again held sizeable leads but looked on as the Camels went on a 24-6 run to close out the game over the final seven minutes.
ETSU junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) finished with a career high 25 points and posted a double-double with 12 rebounds, while Sollazzo posted a career high 12 assists. Senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) was the only other ETSU player in double figures scoring with 12 points.
For Campbell, Jonathan Rodriguez finished with a double-double on 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Lorne Merthie had a team high 20 points.
ETSU returns to action at home for its final two games of the year against Kennesaw State Thursday night at 7 p.m. inside Memorial Center.