Bucs upend Citadel

By Allen LaMountain

   JOHNSON CITY -- Smith and Wesson may have popularized the .44 magnum, but the East Tennessee State Buccaneers have a pair of popular weapons of their own in Smith and Wade.
   On Saturday afternoon at Memorial Center, Tirus Wade scored a team-high 19 points, while freshman point guard Tim Smith -- along with Zakee Wadood -- poured in 16 points as the Bucs (8-6, 2-1 SoCon) won a tight 87-81 contest over the Citadel Bulldogs.
   "We came in looking to get the monkey off our backs after the Appy State game," said Wade referring to ETSU's blowout loss in Boone, N.C. "We'll take the 'W' anytime though. The thing is we have to start to click as a team on defense. Individually we match up well, but as a team we leave a lot of open shots."
   The Citadel (5-8, 0-2 SoCon) took advantage of those opportunities on several occasions to cut into double-digit Bucs leads by bombing away from three-point land.
   The Bulldogs connected on 11-of-21 from distance (52.3 percent) with senior forward Clyde Wormley leading the way with six-of-seven treys.
   Wormley scored a game-high 23 points in the process and his head coach Pat Dennis was pleased with that saying, "We have been waiting for Clyde to step up, and tonight he looked real good."
   After struggling through much of the early portion of the first half, the Bucs finally put on an offensive spurt to open a 22-10 lead at the 13:31 mark, but the 'Dogs put up a nine-point run to close to within 22-19 as Erick Wilson buried a trey, and post Gregg Jones hit a pair of free throws followed by a bucket.
   Now challenged the Bucs built the lead to 29-19 after a three-point play by Wade, only to see the Citadel put on an eight-to-two run to make it a 31-27 contest.
   A trey by Wormley made it a 33-30 contest with a little over four minutes left in the half. ETSU went into the break with a slender 40-37 lead.
   "We still allow too many points on 'd'" said Smith. "We can win these types of shoot-outs at home, but we need to come together on the road. This is a tough conference. I didn't know it would be this tough.
   "The last few games we didn't have our tempo and it hurt us. Especially in the Appy game. Tonight we had the tempo. We just want to get the ball and go."
   That has been the Bucs dilemma this season, winning on the road is something the Bucs have yet to do as they are now 8-0 in the Dome and 0-6 everywhere else.
   In the second half Wadood - who scored just two first half points - got on a tear scoring 14 second half points, including seven of the Bucs first 16 points of the second half.
   Once again the Bucs built a double-digit advantage at 60-48, only to see the Bulldogs shoot their way back into contention. A Wade trey gave ETSU it's lead, but he was injured soon afterward when the middle finger of his left hand got caught in the jersey of a Bulldog player and was dislocated.
   "I got it caught somehow and I heard it pop," said Wade in describing the injury. "I think I actually shot free throws better after I hurt it."
   After another triple by Wormley helped close the gap to 75-70 at the 5:06 mark of regulation, Wade canned a pair from the charity stripe and shortly thereafter buried a three to make it an 82-75 game with 3:39 remaining.
   The 'Dogs had one more short run left in them that closed the Citadel to within 85-81 on a short jumper by Max Mombollet, but the Bucs were solid enough at the free throw line to hold the fort.
   "We never let them get the lead back," said Bucs head coach Ed DeChellis. "They would get close as three, four or five points. So, that's a positive thing in that we didn't look over our shoulder. We kept playing and making basketball plays to score."
   Bucs notes : ETSU hosts the College of Charleston on Monday night in what should be a marquee match of highly regarded SoCon teams. The Cougars have slipped a bit to 11-3 overall, but are always a dangerous opponent.