Saturday, March 26, 2011JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 26, 2011) - In a game with multiple offensive swings and plenty of exciting play, the ETSU men's basketball team had no answers for the high-powered Iona offense in the second half and came up short in a thrilling 83-80 loss to the Gaels in the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament Saturday afternoon at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
With the loss, ETSU ends a successful season at 24-12, while Iona improves to 25-11 and will host Santa Clara in the championship game of the CIT Wednesday evening.
"I'm really proud of our guys and the effort they showed against a very good Iona team," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team overcame at 14-0 deficit to open the game to lead much of the contest. "Iona, along with Belmont out of our league, is one of the two best teams to come in here this season. They are really good offensively.
"But I can't say enough about our team and our senior class. Those guys have averaged winning 22 games a year and have gotten to play in four postseason tournaments. That's pretty impressive."
The Gaels were led by the powerful inside presence of forward Mike Glover, who finished with a double-double on a game-high, 33-point, 10-rebound effort. Iona also got 20 points from Sean Armand, and point guard Scott Machado had a game-high 11 assists.
Meanwhile, ETSU seniors Micah Williams (Manchester) and Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) once again led the way with 23 and 18 points, respectively, while junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) had 21 points and senior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) added 13.
It was the first time this season that ETSU had scored 70 points or more and still lost, giving even more validity to the quality of the Iona offense. The Gaels shot 53 percent from the floor, 43 percent from 3-point range, and 75 percent from the foul line, while also out-rebounding ETSU 38-29.
Iona also dished out 19 assists, compared to 13 for the Bucs, and the Gaels' 48 second-half points was the most for an ETSU opponent this season.
The game got off to a tough start for the Bucs, as Iona quickly built a 14-0 lead over the first four minutes of play. However, Glover went out at that point with a minor injury and the Bucs responded by outscoring Iona 30-6 to take a 30-20 lead with 6:12 left before the half.
Iona was able to cut it back to six at 41-35 by halftime, but the Bucs had survived a strong opening punch from their visitors from New York City. Glover finished the first half with 18 points in 15 minutes of floor time.
After the break, Iona slowly crept back into the game and ultimately took the lead at 61-59, going on to take a 69-59 advantage with 8:09 left in the contest.
ETSU did not go away, however, slowly rallying back to make it 81-80 on a Williams' layup with 11 seconds left. From there, the Bucs fouled Iona guard Trinity Fields, who hit both freebies to make it 83-80 with 4.1 seconds left. The Bucs inbounded the ball and Sollazzo took a running 3-point shot that missed the mark as time expired.
For the game, ETSU was strong offensively as well, shooting 46 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range. Bucs' forward Isiah Brown (Miami) also made some history with his 71st block of the year, which is a new single-season record for the program. In addition, the Bucs also set a new school record for games played in a season with 36.
For more on ETSU men's basketball throughout the offseason, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.