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Brown’s heroics, defense lift ETSU over UNF, 68-66
North Florida (16-16 (10-8ASun))
East Tennessee State (17-13 (10-8ASun))
3/1/2012 | Macon, Ga. - University Center | Attendance: 501
Thursday, March 01, 2012
MACON, Ga. (March 1, 2012) – Senior Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) scored a game-high 22 points and broke the ETSU all-time record for blocked shots on a critical play with 57 seconds left, lifting the ETSU men’s basketball team to a 68-66 win over North Florida during first round play at the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Championships Thursday afternoon inside Mercer’s University Center.
Brown was joined in double figures by junior guard Marcus Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) with 13 points, while seniors Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and Tommy Hubbard (Boston) pitched in 13 and 11, respectively. The Buccaneers (17-13 overall) shot 51 percent from the floor for the game, on their way to setting up a semifinal matchup with league rival Belmont Friday evening at 6 p.m.
That game will air on regional cable courtesy of CSS, and will also be available at ASun.TV.
“This was a great win,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “It’s a game of inches and if a bounce here or there goes the other way, we’re not sitting here now. We’ve won four in a row though and I think we’re feeling pretty good. We’ll have to play a lot better tomorrow night to stay alive.”
In a game that ETSU led most of the way, the Bucs still never led by more than seven points. It led to some nerve-racking final moments.
After tying the record of 182 career blocks held by former ETSU standout Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) by stuffing a shot earlier in the game, Brown denied a 3-point attempt by UNF sharp-shooter Parker Smith in the final minute and the Bucs leading 66-64. On that play, Dubose (Hartsville, S.C.) later stole the ball and scored a lay-up to make it 68-64.
From there, UNF later made it 68-66 and after a missed free throw by Dubose, the Ospreys had one final opportunity to tie or win the game. Instead, ETSU’s defense swarmed over UNF and held for the final 22 seconds. The only opportunity UNF managed was a long, desperation shot by Smith as time expired.
In the first half, North Florida took the early advantage and used an 11-3 run to build a 19-11 lead with just over 11 minutes left before the intermission. However, from there ETSU put together a 15-3 run of its own to regain the lead at 23-22, and later led by as many as seven.
Holding a 41-35 edge with less than 10 seconds left in the half, Sollazzo took an ill-advised shot, allowing the Ospreys to regain possession and hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to make it 41-38 at the break.
In the second half, ETSU held North Florida to 29 percent shooting from the floor, and the Bucs picked off eight steals. In fact, Hubbard set a new career high with six steals on his own.
For North Florida, Smith led the way with 17 points, while Jerron Granberry and Jimmy Williams pitched in 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Bucs now turn their attention to Belmont, who they have not met in league tournament play since defeating the Bruins in the semifinals of the 2009 A-Sun Tournament. Since that game, Belmont is a perfect 4-0 against the Bucs.
For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the A-Sun Tournament, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.