ETSU flogs Eagles to open new year

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   They came soaring in like their nickname, the Eagles, but by the time the Bucs finished with Juniata they walked away looking like Emu's.
   Behind a tenacious defense and an opportunistic offense, East Tennessee State ran their season mark to 6-5 by crushing the visiting Juniata Eagles by a score of 108-57 in the confines of the Mini-Dome on Thursday night. The game was a warm-up for the nationally televised game by ESPN2 against Greensboro on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
   "I was really pleased with the last 10 minutes of the game," stated Buc head coach Ed DeChellis. "We have been trying to get some guys going in practice and I thought that Michael Tolliver, Brad Nuckles, James Anthony, and Ben Rhoda did a great job going down the stretch."
   The game was a one of mini-runs by the Bucs as they opened the contest by racing out to a 16-4 advantage at the 13:36 mark of the first half.
   Juniata made the best showing of the night as they made an 18-8 run of their own to cut the Bucs lead to only two points, 24-22, with 9:30 left in the half behind the hot three-point shooting of Jeff Lau who nailed four treys in the stretch.
   The Eagles then were left smelling the smoke off the Bucs wheels as ETSU found their groove and exploded for a 32-6 run to intermission to, for all intents and purposes, put the game out of reach as they took a comfortable 56-28 edge to the locker room.
   Zakee Wadood and Jerald Fields teamed up to make sure that this game was decided early with Wadood hitting for 18 in the half while Fields added 10.
   "Both teams really played hard out there tonight," said Wadood. "There were a lot of positive things happening for us with all the guys getting to play and I just wanted to do whatever it took for us to win."
   The second half was the same story, but with a different set of characters as DeChellis had the opportunity to offer quality playing time to players that always don't have the opportunity. They didn't disappoint either as Nuckles hit for 13 in the half and Tolliver made a statement for more P.T. as he collected 12 points on several sweet moves to the basket.
   Anthony contributed 9 points in a good outing for the 6-2 sophomore guard.
   ETSU slammed the Eagle coop shut with a final 29-7 run over the last 10:49 of the contest. The Eagles, who entered with a 6-2 ledger mainly against Div. 3 schools, will most likely use this game as a teaching tool on how strong defense leads to many open opportunities on the offensive end.
   Lau collected 15 points to pace Juniata while teammate Craig Biller netted 11. Six players hit double figures for ETSU led by Wadood with 22 followed by Nuckles' 16, Tiras Wade's 15, Tolliver and Fields with 12, and Ben Rhoda with 10.
   "We are really looking forward to the competition in conference play starting with Greensboro on Saturday," stated Nuckles. "We really need everyone playing well heading into our conference schedule and it really helps a lot to get the players on the bench to contribute as we did tonight."
   DeChellis agreed with Nuckles assessment. "Our league is really balanced from top to bottom this season and it will take all of our guys contributing for us entering league play. We are hoping it all starts Saturday against a good Greensboro team in front of a nationally televised audience and I just hope that all the fans come out and pack this place so we can make a good showing and hopefully open up our league play with a win."