SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Jan. 4, 2010) - Despite giving up a 15-point lead over the final 10 minutes and facing a tie score with 58 seconds left, an unlikely scenario involving an injury to sophomore forward Isiah Brown (Miami) and a made foul shot by a freshman forward Lukas Poderis (Tampa) lifted the ETSU men's basketball team to a 63-62 win over USC Upstate in Atlantic Sun Conference basketball action Monday afternoon inside the E.B. Hodge Center.
The Bucs - who scored a season-low 16 points in the second half - held a 58-43 lead with 10:12 left and only managed five points the rest of the way. In fact, the Bucs (7-7 overall, 3-0 A-Sun) overcame six missed foul shots and two turnovers in the final minute to still manage a victory thanks to an unusual finish.
When Upstate's Carter Cook missed a potential game winner with 15 seconds left, Brown came down with the rebound and was fouled to the floor. The foul left Brown holding his right ankle and heading to the ETSU bench. By rule, USC Upstate coach Eddie Payne was then allowed to pick who would replace Brown at the line.
Poderis hit the first shot of the one-and-one bonus, giving the Bucs the lead at 63-62. His second shot missed, but the Bucs managed to stop Upstate from scoring. ETSU's Micah Williams (Manchester) was then fouled and missed the front end of the one-and-one with six seconds left, but again the Spartans were unable to make a miraculous shot at the end.
"I thought Lukas' shot was obviously huge," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "The first half was just phenomenal offensively with 44 points, but we just didn't bring that same type of play in the second half. We're happy to survive and get the win. It was an unusual game and we were fortunate to survive."
The Bucs were led by a game-high 21 points from junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), while Poderis added a career best 14 and Williams pitched in 12. Upstate had three players in double figures, with both Pat Posey and Cedric Koffi netting 12 points each.
The Bucs got off to a slow start and trailed by as many as 11 at 23-12 with 10:18 left in the first half. However, a 16-0 offensive run was just what ETSU needed as the Bucs built a 28-23 lead and ultimately grew their advantage to as many as 14 at 47-33 with 33 seconds left in the half. The Spartans hit a three as time wound down, and the half ended with ETSU leading 47-36.
The Bucs shot 56 percent from the floor, and despite just shooting 63 percent from the line on the season, ETSU hit on 17-of-19 from the charity stripe for a clip of 90 percent before the intermission. Hubbard led the Bucs with 15 points and six rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
In the second half, ETSU pushed the lead to 15 at 58-43, but from there Upstate outscored the Bucs 19-5. For the game, ETSU hit on 41 percent of its shots from the floor, and despite the solid free throw shooting numbers in the first half, ultimately finished at 68 percent for the game after going 2-of-9 from the charity stripe in the second half.
The Bucs will return to action Thursday night on the road at Kennesaw State. Game time is set for 5 p.m. ETSU will then finish out its three-game league road swing with a Saturday matchup with Mercer in Macon, Ga. That game is set for 3:30.
For more on ETSU men's basketball throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's basketball link.