ETSU presses for win, drops Central Michigan 69-57

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2005) - Off to a 1-6 start for the season, one might say the ETSU men's basketball team was pressing for a win. Well, that's just what the Buccaneers did.

 

Unveiling a new fullcourt press defense for the first time this season, ETSU players like senior guards Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) and Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) thrived in the fast-paced action, both eclipsing 20 points for the game as the Buccaneers snapped a four-game losing streak and dropped Central Michigan 69-57 Wednesday night in front of 3,998 fans at Memorial Center.

 

"This was a big game to get us going in the right direction," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 2-6 on the year. "I've said often I still think we're going to be good, and we're going to enjoy this win. I think players like Tim and Ben play well in an up-and-down game so we tried to force that tonight."

 

ETSU opened the game in the usual 2-3 zone defense, but quickly changed to the fullcourt trapping style, building a lead of as many as nine points at 17-8 with 12:23 left in the first half. The Chippewas (2-7) rallied at that point with a 12-3 run to take their only lead of the game at 20-18 with 6:51 remaining before the break, but the Bucs quickly regained the advantage and enjoyed a six-point lead at halftime, 34-28.

 

In the second half, ETSU built a 14-point lead at 42-28 before CMU battled back to move to within six at 52-46 with 8:43 remaining. From there, the Bucs went on a 7-0 run to regain a sizeable 13-point advantage and simply traded baskets with CMU the rest of the game.

 

The Bucs forced 28 turnovers in all and picked up 11 steals on the night, and enjoyed a double-digit win despite shooting just 39 percent from the floor. The difference really came at the foul line, where ETSU hit on 21-of-32 attempts compared to just 8-of-11 for the Chippewas.

 

Rhoda finished with season highs in several categories including points (21), field goals (six) and free throws (eight), while Smith finished the night with his 45th career 20-point effort with a game-high 22 points. Rhoda and Smith were joined in double figures by junior guard Travis Strong (Memphis), who netted 12 points on the night.

 

For Central Michigan, Chris Kellerman led the way with 15 points, while Drew Walker added 13. The Chippewas shot just 34 percent from the floor, but did out-rebound the Bucs, 45-39.

 

Both teams will take off for the Christmas break, with CMU returning to action Jan. 4 at Bowling Green. Meanwhile, the Bucs will continue on their current three-game home stand with a Dec. 29 meeting against Morehead State. Tip for that game is set for 7 p.m.

 

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