Bucs wipe out Mocs in final home game

By Wes Holtsclaw

   JOHNSON CITY -- The Memorial Center fans did the wave late in East Tennessee State's final home game of the season.
   Once the Buccaneers splashed in the second half, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Moccasins were wiped out.
   In the final home game for seniors Jerald Fields and Zakee Wadood, the Bucs conquered the final stanza and led by as much as 20.
   Although Chattanooga drained a plentiful amount of treys late, it wasn't enough to stop ETSU's 16th straight win (15-0 conference this season) with an 84-72 decision.
   "I'm proud of the effort and we were hopeful that we could keep (Chattanooga) under 80," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "It was good for Jerald and Zak to go out with a win. One of our major goals was to go 12-0 in the dome and we've closed that out."
   Fields and Wadood dropped 20 and 10, respectively, in front of ETSU's largest conference crowd in 11 years, with close to 9,000 people in the stands.
   "I didn't think it was going to be like that in the first half," said Fields. "I'm happy with the outcome. It felt special to be out there tonight. I wanted to say I played well in my last home game."
   "There was no way Chattanooga was going to beat us tonight. I was pleased," Wadood said. "I think I was trying to do too much in the second half, but my teammates picked me up."
   Again, Tim Smith shined in front of a television audience with 27 points, while Ben Rhoda came through with 19 courtesy of a strong run in the middle of the game.
   The Bucs could only hold onto a six point lead twice in a first half that saw a slower pace due to Chattanooga's zone defense.
   "We wanted to slow it down a little bit and we had our pace, but we turned it over too much," said Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo.
   Smith dropped five deuces while Wadood and Ben Rhoda each hit a trey at different parts of the stanza to keep the large crowd going.
   Chattanooga, however, found success with guards Jason Rogan and Ray Trowell, who each were effective from outside.
   The Mocs took one lead in the first twenty minutes with a one-point jolt before Fields and Rhoda made it a four-point margin at the half.
   Four shots into the second and ETSU held the first double-digit lead of the contest.
   Rhoda hit five of the first nine buckets before Smith and Fields made it a 20-point game.
   "We wanted to come out in the second half with a lot of energy and try to get some easy baskets," said Rhoda. "That's what we did."
   "The key to the game was Rhoda," said Lebo. "He's good and he doesn't get the credit he deserves as they've got three of the best players in the league on one team"
   Wadood got in a final one-handed alley-OOP slam, while Fields slammed one down during a little goodbye gesture to the fans.
   Said Wadood: "I tried to give the crowd something to remember me by, Timmy threw the ally up and it went it. That's what I'll leave the crowd with."
   Bryan Richardson, Trowell and Alphonso Pugh closed the gap for Chattanooga with six treys late in the game to close the margin.
   Trowell led the Mocs with 15, while Pugh and Midnaugas Katelynas had 14 each. Rogan dropped 12.
   A former ETSU assistant under Alan LeForce, Lebo was sure to point out similarities of the teams after this campaign's final home rout.
   "They are good," Lebo said. "They kind of remind me of the teams when I was here. They probably don't have as much depth as those teams, but they have great point guard play and great inside play."
   Now the Bucs try to close out a perfect conference season on the road at the College of Charleston on Saturday in a game that will also be televised by ESPN2 at 2 p.m.
   Bartow said the team is excited about the opportunity.
   "The Charleston game is a very loseable game and I can assure you we're very excited about it," the coach said. "As I told the guys 15-1 is a great year, but 16-0 has a better ring to it."
   Wadood achieved another double-double with 10 boards in the game, while Katelynas crashed 13 rebounds during the game for UTC.
   The Bucs shot an impressive 64.7 percent in the second half after a dismal 40 in the opening frame.
   ETSU forced 20 turnovers and recorded seven steals.
   Chattanooga's brightest spot in the game was from behind the three-point arch, shooting close to 50 percent overall after a fifty percent second half.
   Logan, Pugh, Richardson and Trowell each made at least two treys with Logan dropping three.
   The final attendance was set at 8,667 with major representatives from the Southern Conference in attendance.
   The SoCon officials were impressed with the showing for a televised game on Fox Sports Net South.