ETSU can't find touch in loss to Chattanooga

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF

   JOHNSON CITY -- It would take you a lot longer to count how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop than it would to count the baskets made by the ETSU Buccaneers Saturday.
   The Bucs just couldn't get the shots to fall, as the Chattanooga Mocs put a halt to ETSU's 18-game home winning streak by defeating the Buccaneers 66-61 at Memorial Center.
   ETSU shot a dismal 33.8 percent from the field, and went 4-of-25 from the beyond the three-point line.
   "This is the worst shooting night I've seen since I've been here," said guard Ryan Lawson, who was 2-of-13 from three-point range.
   ETSU head coach Ed DeChellis applauded the effort, but thought the shooting woes were just too much to overcome.
   "I thought our kids played hard," DeChellis said. "We did a great job defensively, we just couldn't make a basket."
   The Bucs also had some woes from the free-throw line. ETSU shot 13-of-24 from the charity stripe, compared to 16-of-18 for the Mocs.
   But despite all of this, ETSU actually was still in the game until the final seconds.
   Chattanooga was ahead 51-45 with 8:08 to go in regulation, but the Bucs came back to tie the game at 53-53 on a Jerald Fields basket. Then ETSU took the lead for the first time since the early stages when Tiras Wade hit two free throws, giving the Bucs a 55-53 advantage with 4:42 left.
   After Chattanooga's Tim Parker sank two free-throws to tie the game at 55-55, Fields then drew a foul on the other end and made one out-of-two from the charity stripe to give ETSU the lead back at 56-55.
   After the Mocs regained the advantage, Tiras Wade followed his own miss to put ETSU back on top 58-57.
   It was ETSU's last lead.
   Chattanooga kept getting to the foul line and making its free-throws.
   The Mocs made seven-of-eight in the final 3:21.
   The Mocs were leading 63-61 with 34 seconds to go when Wade put up a shot to tie it, but like so many on this day, it just didn't go in.
   "We had a couple of good looks, we just couldn't knock them down," Fields said.
   The Mocs made two free-throws on the other end to ice it.
   "I was surprised we were in it," DeChellis said. "That's a credit to our kids."
   It was really surprising that it wasn't a blowout by halftime. ETSU shot 2-of-16 from three-point land in the first half, and shot only 11-of-36 from the field in that frame.
   Still, the Bucs were only behind 30-25 at the break.
   One reason for the Bucs still being in the game throughout was due to Chattanooga's knack for turning the ball over. The Mocs turned the ball over 20 times, compared to 12 for ETSU.
   As far as the three-point shooting, the Bucs had a lot of wide open shots, and DeChellis gave his team the green light.
   "We took a bunch of them," DeChellis said. "We normally make the shots we missed tonight. It's very frustrating."
   The Bucs were also burned by the hot shooting from Chattanooga guard Toot Young. He had 23 points on the night, and made four three-pointers.
   But despite that, DeChellis was very happy with the defensive effort given by the Bucs.
   "Defense wasn't the problem," DeChellis said. "If you had told me we would give up 66 points, I would have told you we were going to win."
   Wade led ETSU with 16 points, while Fields scored 14 for the Bucs. Zakee Wadood led ETSU in rebounding with 11, but Wade was close behind with 10.
   The loss does bring an end to the home winning streak that had become one of the largest in the country.
   Fields is hoping the Bucs can start a new one.
   "All we can do is build on it," Fields said. "It was a great thing to keep going, but now we have to start a new one. We can't look back."
   Chattanooga improves to 11-10 overall and 4-4 in Southern Conference play, while the Bucs drop to 10-9 overall and 3-5 in SoCon action. ETSU will be back in action Wednesday at VMI.