Pigram sparks Bucs to impressive offensive night against Mercer
Senior Nick Tuggle started the game and finished with 13 points.
Senior Nick Tuggle started the game and finished with 13 points.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

                JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 24, 2007) - Despite being forced to play without many of their usual offensive weapons, the ETSU Buccaneers found production in unusual places, posting 65 first half points and going on to defeat Atlantic Sun Conference foe Mercer 112-89 in front of 5,452 fans on Senior Day Saturday at Memorial Center.


            Sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) posted one of the most impressive games in ETSU history, scoring 29 points and dishing out a remarkable 18 assists. His assist number was the second best single-game total ever, just missing the ETSU record of 19 set by Keith "Mister" Jennings in 1991. In addition, he just missed becoming the second ETSU player in recorded history to collect a triple-double, finishing with eight rebounds.


            "What do you say about Courtney Pigram, a guy who finishes with 29 points, 18 assists and eight rebounds. That's really unbelievable" said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 22-8 overall, 16-2 A-Sun. "Courtney played some at the one and at the two tonight, and he really did a great job. He showed tonight why he should be the player of the year in this league."


Pigram was not alone, however, as junior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) collected a career high 24 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the 3-point line, matching the third best long-range shooting night in ETSU history. Meanwhile, senior walk-on Nick Tuggle (Memphis) made the most of his Senior Day start, posting 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while freshman guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) netted 24 points and senior forward Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif.) collected 12 to round out ETSU's five double-figure scorers.


            Swader received more minutes in the game when senior forward Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) went down with a left shoulder injury early on. Meanwhile, Pigram was forced into action at the point guard position with sophomore guard Tayloe Taylor (Memphis) on the bench with three fouls in the first half and freshman Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville) serving a one-game suspension for violation of team rules. Twilley will return for the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Championship later next week, while Nuckles is also listed as probable and expected to return for the tournament.


            "We see that from Nick all the time in practice and I guess now I'll have to answer a lot of questions about why he doesn't play more," Bartow said. "Kenyona Swader was just fantastic, too. It was a good win, especially to beat Mercer, a team that is one of the more improved teams in our league this year."


            The first half was filled with highlight reel plays, beginning with Tuggle electrifying the crowd with a 3-pointer and five early points. It continued with dunks from Swader, Thomas and junior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.), and it ended with Pigram posting a double-double before the intermission with 16 points and 10 rebounds.


            For the game, ETSU finished with a 55 percent shooting clip (41-of-75), while hitting on 45 percent from beyond the arc (13-of-29). As a team, the Bucs dished out 29 assists, and hit on 17-of-20 shots from the foul line.


            Mercer (13-16, 8-10) had four players in double figures, led by 27 points from James Florence, as well as 20 from Ross Alacqua, 14 from Shaddean Aaron and 12 from Brian Pfohl.


            The Bucs will return to action in the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Thursday evening, when they will face the No. 8 seed at 7 p.m. inside Memorial Center. Tickets are still available by calling 423-439-ETSU (3878), and fans unable to attend can watch via live video streaming at ETSUBucs.com or regionally on CSS.

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