JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 27, 2003) - Davidson, a team that has made more 3-point field goals than any other squad in the NCAA this season, displayed its preferred mode of attack once again Monday night by hitting on 11-of-22 shots from beyond the arc and dropping East Tennessee State 80-71 in front of 3,809 fans at Memorial Center.
The Wildcats (11-6 overall, 5-2 in Southern Conference play) built a lead of as many as 12 points early in the second half and held off a pair of offensive rallies by the Buccaneers (11-7, 5-2) to get the victory. With the win, Davidson pulled into a tie with ETSU for second place in the SoCon North Division race, and it ended a 12-game home winning streak for the Bucs.
"I thought Davidson played a great game in every aspect," said ETSU head coach Ed DeChellis, whose team now trails Appalachian State (13-4, 6-1) by one game in the North Division. "We knew we needed to guard their 3-point shooters to keep from getting beat and we didn't do that. I commend Davidson because that's what they're noted for and that's what they did."
Freshman shooting guard Matt McKillop was the main contributor for the Wildcats, hitting critical baskets time after time down the stretch in the second half. McKillop, the son of Davidson head coach Bob McKillop, tied his career high thanks to 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting - with six of those baskets coming from 3-point range.
Matt McKillop's effort was only overshadowed by the play of ETSU's junior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) who netted a career-high and game-high 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor and a 6-of-9 effort from the free-throw line.
Wadood said the Bucs - who pulled to within two points at 59-57 with 5:53 left in the game -- simply could not overcome Davidson's ability to throw down 3-pointers at crucial moments in the contest.
"Every little run we put together they'd hit a three," Wadood said. "We're a good team and they're a good team, but we just didn't make a run at the right time. We came out flat and they jumped out on us. We were lucky to just be down two at the half."
Indeed, the Bucs were sluggish early on and traded baskets with the Wildcats throughout the first half. After the intermission, Davidson built their large lead and then watched the Bucs pull to within four points at the 10:27 mark and two points with 5:53 left. However, an intentional foul by sophomore guard Tiras Wade (Tampa, Fla.) and a technical foul on Wadood at 3:45 helped the Wildcats keep their cushion on the scoreboard and pick up the win.
Along with McKillop, Davidson got double-figure scoring from Wayne Bernard (19) and Michel Lusakueno (10). For ETSU, senior guard Ryan Lawson (Rogersville, Tenn.) and sophomore guard James Anthony (Brandon, Fla.) netted 14 and 11 points, respectively.
ETSU will return to action at noon on Saturday when they travel to face longtime SoCon rival Chattanooga at McKenzie Arena.