Rally falls short for Buccaneers

from staff reports

   CHARLESTON, SC -- Only needing one more victory to capture their first perfect conference season, the East Tennessee State Buccaneers were a bounce short.
   In Saturday's big conference battle, ETSU rallied back from a 17-point deficit to tie the College of Charleston Cougars.
   A Mike Benton tip-in with 10 seconds left off a Thomas Mobley pass led the Cougars to a two-point lead before a Jerald Fields shot bounced off the rim, giving Charleston a 91-89 victory over ETSU at John Kresse Arena.
   Benton and Mobley each posted double-doubles with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars.
   Tim Smith led the Bucs with 27 points (13-of-31 shooting), while Jerald Fields and Zakee Wadood had 19 points apiece. Wadood fouled out late in the fourth quarter while the Bucs were on their run.
   The Cougars came out with the first 14 points of the game. Mobley buried a three-pointer in front of the third largest crowd in the history of the John Kresse Arena (3,790) following the first media time-out of the game.
   ETSU cut into the Cougar lead as the first half went a lone and when Fields converted a lay-up, the Bucs got within nine. Mobley and Tony Mitchell each hit a three to make it an 11-point game going into the second half.
   After missing their first eight shots of the first half, the Bucs knocked down five of their first eight to start the second half. ETSU cut the lead down to six before Charleston rallied to make it a 17-point game.
   The Bucs responded in the game's final minutes with a 24-8 run to tie the game on a Smith jumper. Mobley threw a lob with ten seconds to go, hitting Benton for the game-winning tip-in.
   Following an ETSU turnover, the Cougars long inbounds pass hit the scoreboard to give the Bucs the ball with 3.8 seconds left.
   Fields missed a jumper that could've tied the game and Mobley came down with the defensive board.
   Charleston claimed a share of the SoCon South title, while the Bucs have already clinched the North division title.
   Bernard Jackson and Tony Mitchell added 17 points apiece for Charleston, while Travis Strong contributed six for the Bucs.
   The Cougars finished 11 of 22 from the three-point arch.
   ETSU and Charleston begin play of the Southern Conference tournament at the North Charleston Coliseum this week. The Bucs play at noon on Thursday with a first round bye.