JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2010) - Forcing North Florida into 19 turnovers and outscoring the Ospreys 23-7 off those miscues, the ETSU men's basketball team's play on the defensive end proved critical as the Buccaneers enjoyed a 61-46 victory in Atlantic Sun Conference action Thursday night at the UNF Arena.
While the Bucs held UNF to just 30 percent shooting for the game and swiped 10 steals, ETSU got a team-high 14 points from freshman guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) in the victory. In addition, ETSU got 10 points apiece from guards Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and Micah Williams (Manchester), as the Bucs' bench outscored the Ospreys' subs, 28-12.
"I was very pleased with our defense tonight," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 16-14 overall, 12-7 in A-Sun action. "Offensively, Sheldon really played well for us coming off the bench. This is a good way to start our road trip."
The Bucs managed to win despite shooting just 43.5 percent (10-of-23) from the free throw line, but ETSU did hit on 42 percent from the field. UNF held a 46-36 edge on the boards, but the Ospreys were just 2-of-21 from beyond the 3-point arc.
In the first half, the Bucs built a lead of as many as nine points at 22-13 when Sollazzo hit a layup at the 4:59 mark. UNF answered to pull back to within five at 24-19 with 3:04 left, but six straight points from the Bucs - capped by another Sollazzo score with three second left in the half - made it 30-19 at the break.
The Bucs enjoyed their 11-point advantage despite hitting on just 3-of-9 shots from the free throw line. However, ETSU connected on 42 percent of its shots from the field in the first 20 minutes, while using their fullcourt defense to hold the Ospreys to just 29 percent shooting from the floor and an 0-for-8 clip from 3-point range.
After the break, the Bucs kept the defensive pressure on the Ospreys early and used multiple UNF turnovers to build their lead to as many as 16 at 39-23 with 16:19 left in the game. UNF managed to cut that advantage to nine points midway through the second half, but that would be as close as the Ospreys would get as the Bucs pushed back out to a 19-point advantage late in the game.
The Ospreys were led offensively by Andy Diaz with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
ETSU will return to action in its regular season finale Saturday afternoon at Jacksonville. Tip off inside the Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 2 p.m.