Second half defensive effort powers ETSU past Radford, 71-51
Eryk Thomas scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds, had three blocks and three steals.
Eryk Thomas scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds, had three blocks and three steals.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

                JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2006) - Putting together its best defensive half of the season, the ETSU men's basketball team held Radford to just 15 points after the halftime break and went on to drop the Highlanders 71-51 in a non-conference battle Thursday night at Memorial Center.


            The crowd of 3,709 looked on as the Bucs came back from a 36-33 deficit at the intermission to outscore Radford 38-15 and hold the Highlanders to just 38 percent shooting for the game. ETSU was led by four players in double figures, including a game-high 16 points from freshman guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), 13 from junior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.), 12 from sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), and 11 from senior forward Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif.).  


            "We're starting to figure it out," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 8-5 on the season, while Radford dropped to 5-8. "The biggest thing is we're defending better. They came into this game shooting 48 percent for the season, so I definitely think holding them to 51 points and 38 percent shooting says something about our effort on that end of the floor.


"We didn't have a lot of that kind of play the past couple of years, so it's good to see. This was a good win for us."


            It was a game of offensive runs early on, with the Bucs taking a 23-14 lead midway through the first half only to see Radford outscore them 22-10 the rest of the way to take a three-point lead at the break. In the second half, the Bucs wasted little time starting another run, blitzing out of the gates with a 15-2 burst of their own to lead 48-38 with just over 11 minutes. During that nine-minute stretch, the Bucs held Radford to just two points.


            Radford did manage to cut the lead to six at 48-42, but from there a jumper by Reed and a monstrous lob dunk to Thomas made it 52-42. The Bucs never looked back, ultimately finishing with their 20-point win.


            Thomas put together the game's best all-around effort, adding six rebounds, two assists, three blocks and three steals to go along with his 11 points. Senior forward Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) posted a game-high 11 rebounds and scored eight points to just miss a double-double. The Bucs shot 47 percent from the floor for the game and out-rebounded Radford 40-37, while also forcing 22 Radford turnovers and grabbing 11 steals.


            For Radford, Amir Johnson led the way with 13 points, while Chris Oliver and Reggie McIntyre added 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Highlanders managed just three assists in the game.


            The Bucs return to action in their final non-conference game of the season Dec. 30 at Tennessee. The game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. tip and will air regionally on CSS. ETSU will return home on Jan. 2 to begin Atlantic Sun Conference play against preseason favorite Belmont. That game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start, and the Bucs will be honoring Top 5 great Zakee Wadood with a special pin promotion.

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