ETSU pulls upset

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- It was appropriate that ETSU point guard Ryan Lawson punted the basketball into the stands following the Buccaneers' Southern Conference battle with Davidson. This contest resembled a football game more than it did a basketball game.
   The Buccaneers and the Wildcats played a very physical contest, but in the end it was ETSU getting the upper hand by pulling off an 85-78 upset win over the SoCon North Division leaders in Memorial Center.
   "This was a real physical game," ETSU forward Jerald Fields said. "So far I would have to say it's the most physical we've played in."
   Things were very heated in this battle as each team had two players receive technical fouls.
   ETSU head coach Ed DeChellis expected the game to be pretty much like it was.
   "I think it's going to be a physical game when us and Davidson play," DeChellis said. I think we respect each other, but I think there is no love lost between the two teams.
   Forty-four fouls were called in the contest, and 60 free-throws were attempted. The Buccaneers shot 42 of them, and made the most of their trips to the charity stripe.
   ETSU made 39 of those attempts for to end the game an incredible 92 percent. The Bucs shot only 35.6 percent from the field, so ETSU found a way to win by getting to the foul line and converting.
   "I'm the free-throw shooting coach tonight," DeChellis said. "I think great guys shot them. Ryan Lawson's a very good free-throw shooter, Dimeco (Childress) is a very good free-throw shooter. Jerald Fields has worked extremely hard after practice every day on shooting free-throws. We had the right guys shoot them, and the right guys making them. You've got to make your free-throws to win."
   Childress went a perfect 14-of-14 from the foul line en route to a career-high 36 points.
   "We needed all of them," Childress said. "We stepped up and made them. I didn't think we shot enough to make that many. That was good shooting by us."
   Childress really stepped up his game in the second half. There was an eight-minute stretch starting midway through the second stanza where Childress scored all 14 of ETSU's points.
   The Bucs led 65-55 when Childress hit a three-pointer with 9:19 left, but Davidson roared back to cut ETSU's advantage down to 67-65 with 5:35 to go.
   But when the other Buccaneers were cold, Childress was just starting to heat up. Childress hit six free-throws and a three-pointer in the next four minutes.
   The other players stepped up on defense during this time, holding Davidson to just four points during that four-minute stretch. That propelled ETSU to gain a 76-69 lead with just 1:39 left.
   Childress broke his career-high that he set just one week ago, and DeChellis wasn't surprised.
   "Meco's a clutch player," DeChellis said. "He makes big shots at big times."
   Davidson cut the ETSU lead to four points a couple of times in the final stages, but the Bucs made seven-of-eight free-throws in the final minute to secure the victory.
   During the first nine minutes of the game, it looked like these two teams were going to struggle to break 50 points. The Bucs hit two field goals in the first 8:36, and Davidson turned the basketball over eight times before the 12-minute mark.
   With 11:36 to go ETSU held a 12-10 lead, and DeChellis wasn't very happy.
   "We started out the game very, very horribly," DeChellis said. "We played very sloppy, and very sluggish."
   Both teams did eventually heat up, and ETSU led at halftime by a score of 41-40.
   The Bucs started the second half on a 19-9 run to lead 60-49 with 12:00 minutes to go, as ETSU never trailed in the final stanza.
   Fields and Lawson had big scoring games for the Bucs. Fields poured in 18, while Lawson scored 14.
   Michael Bree topped Davidson with 19 points.
   The Bucs are now on a four-game winning streak, and look to be riding high at the moment. The win puts ETSU at 14-9 overall, and 7-5 in the SoCon heading into a showdown with UNC-Greensboro Tuesday night in Memorial Center.
   Childress likes where this team is heading.
   "We're getting better," Childress said. "We're a lot better than we were than the first time we played them. I think we showed that tonight."
   * East Tennessee State student athletes were honored at halftime for making either the Dean's List or the Honor Roll. Among the list of honorees were Elizabethton High School graduate Adam Howell, and Happy Valley graduate Jarrod Hyder.