Last second basket sinks season for ETSU, 64-63
Freshman Courtney Pigram glides to the basket.
Freshman Courtney Pigram glides to the basket.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 2, 2006)  - Tim Jennings caught and shot on an inbounds pass with 0.9 seconds left to lift No. 4 Gardner-Webb to a 64-63 win over No. 5 East Tennessee State in first-round action of the 2006 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Men's Basketball Championship on Thursday afternoon in Memorial Center.

ETSU led by 17 points with 14:15 remaining in the game, but the Bulldogs (17-11) used two big runs to close the gap. It looked as if the Bucs would survive, but a turnover with 4.4 seconds left gave G-W the chance for the win. After a series of timeouts and a ball deflected out of bounds, Jennings got the matchup he needed in the lane and made the inbounds pass from T.J. McCullough count.

The final shot was just the finishing touch on an incredible comeback.

Early in the second half, ETSU's Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.), the A-Sun player of the year, put his team on his back and appeared to have carried them into the semifinals.

Smith scored seven points as part of an 11-2 run to open the half. The Bucs (15-13) had the ball with a chance to extend the lead further, but a turnover led to a Simon Conn dunk.

That sparked the Bulldogs. Conn scored three straight baskets and added a free throw after makes by Chris Gash and Brian Bender. The 11-2 run brought G-W back to within shooting distance.

ETSU recovered for the time being and once again Smith did his part to get momentum back the side of the Bucs. Smith scored all eight quick points to help push the lead back to 57-46.

Gardner-Webb picked back up from there and actually took the lead when Gash capped off a 14-2 run with a long 3-pointer.

On a basket by Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio)and two free throws from Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.), ETSU reclaimed the lead and were up 63-62 with the ball and less than 1:00 remaining. A turnover gave G-W the ball back with a chance.

After running down the clock to eight seconds, Gash tried to win it with a jumper on the baseline, but his shot bounded away and ETSU recovered. The Bulldogs sixth team foul with 4.4 left gave ETSU the ball under G-W's basket. The Bucs, however, were unable to get the ball in, setting up Jennings' heroics.

Conn had a big game for the Bulldogs, leading the way with 20 points and seven rebounds. Gash added 15 points, Bender 14 and Jennings 10.

ETSU was led by Smith's game-high 21 points. He also chipped in five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Dillion Sneed (Chicago) had 13 points and eight rebounds. Nuckles added 12 points and five boards.

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