ETSU title hopes take setback in 68-56 loss to Stetson
Courtney Pigram scored 15 points in the losing effort.
Courtney Pigram scored 15 points in the losing effort.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

DELAND, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2008) - In ETSU's losses this season, the Buccaneers have struggled at long stretches to produce scoring opportunities. That same issue once again cost the Bucs Sunday.

 

Able to score just one field goal in the final 6:08 of Sunday's game at Stetson, the Buccaneers watched as the Hatters outscored them 16-3 down the stretch to pull off an upset win and temporarily derail ETSU's regular season title hopes 68-56 in Atlantic Sun Conference action at the Edmunds Center. The Bucs' 56 points was the lowest offensive output for the team this season.

 

With the loss, the Bucs drop to 14-10 overall, 8-3 in A-Sun play, while Stetson improves to 11-12, 7-4. Now ETSU will turn its attention to Belmont, which enters Memorial Center Thursday night in a game that will be for first place in the league. Tip off against the Bruins is set for 7 p.m.

 

"Not to simplify the game, but when you don't make shots you don't look good, plus we didn't play defense very well," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team watched a six-game winning streak come to an end. "I told our guys not to overreact to this one game. We've gone 6-1 over the last seven games and we will take that. Plus, we have Belmont coming in Thursday night, so we don't want to over analyze this one game. We've still got a chance to do what we want to do."

 

The first half was ugly for both teams, with the Bucs having trouble shooting and Stetson having issues simply holding onto the basketball. ETSU hit on just 39 percent of its shots in the first half, and the Bucs were just 2-of-8 from 3-point range. But despite the poor shooting, the Hatters' offense didn't capitalize, as the ETSU defensive pressure forced 16 Stetson turnovers and kept the Bucs in the game. Stetson's largest lead of the half was five, while the Bucs led by as many as three, but the two teams finished the first 20 minutes tied 32-32.

 

In the second half, both teams continued to battle back and forth with several lead changes and neither team holding any more than a four-point lead until the 6:08 mark. But after sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) hit a pair of free throws to make it 53-52 in favor of the Bucs, the ETSU offense went in the deep freeze and Stetson would outscore the Bucs 16-3 the rest of the way to pick up the win.

The Hatters out-rebounded the Bucs 41-29 and shot 43 percent from the floor on the night, 42 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Despite committing 22 turnovers, the Hatters still got a key 20-point effort from Garfield Blair and 10 from Eric Diaz to lead their offensive game.

 

Meanwhile, the Bucs were led by 15 points apiece from junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis). For the game, the Bucs shot just 36 percent from the floor and 20 percent from behind the arc.

 

ETSU will return home for an extremely important weekend series with Belmont visiting on Thursday night and Lipscomb invading the Memorial Center on Saturday. The Belmont game will be a battle for first place, as the Bucs and Bruins tip at 7 p.m. For more on ETSU hoops, visit ETSUBucs.com.

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MCC NCAA South Regional Tallahassee, Fla.
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WCC NCAA South Regional Tallahassee, Fla.
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