Bucs subdue Spartans

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- The East Tennessee State men's basketball team should form a boy band. For a majority of the game against UNC-Greensboro Tuesday night, the Bucs were really in-sync.
   The Bucs shot 58.2 percent in a 90-76 victory over the Spartans in Memorial Center.
   The win moves the Bucs into a second-place tie with the Spartans in the Southern Conference's North Division.
   ETSU head coach Ed DeChellis was happy with his team's effort.
   "I thought it was a gutsy performance by our team tonight," DeChellis said. "We had five guys score in double figures, which was very, very important."
   The Bucs were still in a dogfight with about nine minutes to go in the game, but Ryan Lawson, Zakee Wadood and Jerald Fields made sure that the Spartan threat was going to end.
   The Bucs had led by as many as 16 points during the second half, but saw that lead trimmed down to 65-59 on a three-pointer by UNCG's Jay Joseph.
   That would be as close as the Spartans would come.
   Wadood sank two free-throws to give the Bucs an 67-59 lead. Then Ryan Lawson hit two clutch shots, with the latter one being a three-pointer to provide ETSU with a 72-61 edge with 7:03 to go.
   Fields probably provided the exclamation point. The 6-6 post player hit a trey with 5:14 left to make it a 79-67 ETSU advantage.
   Fields wasn't finished.
   After a three-pointer by Ronnie Taylor cut the ETSU lead back to nine, Fields answered back with another trifecta to make it an 82-70 ETSU cushion, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
   Fields has been practicing that outside shot, and Tuesday night the Bucs reaped the benefits of his hard work.
   "The coaches have worked with me on my outside jumper everyday after practice," Fields said. "That's what pulled us through."
   Fields and Wadood finished the night with 22 points, while Lawson poured in 18.
   Lawson's two shots after UNCG's run were definitely pivotal, and he just felt like the green light was given.
   "If I get the ball wide open in circumstances, I'm going to shoot it," Lawson said. "These guys have faith in me to give me the ball, and I'm going to try to follow through for them.
   Wadood was especially dominant in the first half. The Spartans had no answer for him in the post, as he went 6-of-8 shooting in the first 20 minutes to propel the Bucs to a 43-30 halftime lead.
   "I just wanted to come out and play hard," Wadood said. "We lost to them the first game. We had a good game, but we didn't win. I just wanted to come out here and have another good game. I thought we would come out and win, and we won."
   DeChellis was very complimentary of the efforts by Fields and Wadood, especially after having to go up against 6-9 David Schuck and 7-2 Luke Boythe.
   "Zakee and Jerald are good players," DeChellis said. "Our focus was trying to get the ball inside. I thought the first seven minutes of the game down there we got the ball inside, and we did a pretty good job. The focus for two days of practice was to get the ball inside, and let those two kids go to work. I thought they were very effective tonight."
   ETSU started the game very strongly, as the Bucs led 33-16 with 5:35 to go in the half. The closest UNC-Greensboro got from that point on was at the 11:41 mark when the Spartans cut the Buc lead down to 57-52.
   Lawson admitted the Bucs did have a couple of lulls, but realizes it's the mark of a champion to pull through them.
   "I thought we struggled in spurts, but that's a sign of a champion when you can come back and answer those spurts," Lawson said.
   Joseph finished the night with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field for the Spartans. Schuck added 24 for UNCG.
   The Bucs will play their home finale Saturday against Western Carolina.