Wade, Bucs storm back to beat Asheville

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF

   ASHEVILLE, N.C.--It wouldn't have been wise to give freshman guard Tiras Wade a handshake during the second half of ETSU's basketball game Wednesday night.
   That's because he had the hot hand.
   Wade scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half to lead the Bucs to a 77-71 comeback victory over the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs at the Asheville Civic Center.
   Wade and the Buccaneers struggled in the first half. The Bucs shot 9-of-28 from the field, and trailed 40-28 at the break.
   But Wade was the key catalyst in getting the Bucs back into the basketball game. ETSU was down 53-45 with 11:53 to go in the contest when Wade took over.
   From that point, Wade scored 12 of ETSU's next 14 points. And to make things even better for the Bucs, the Bulldogs hit a cold streak during those 2:30 to propel the Bucs to a 59-53 lead.
   Wade was determined to make up for the rough first half.
   "I was down on myself because I missed a whole bunch of easy shots in the first half right under the basket," Wade said. "I just kept shooting it, and it started falling. I just thank God that he blessed me to have a good game in the second half."
   During the stretch that turned around this contest, the Bucs had three big steals. Wade came up with two of them.
   Wade thought the Buccaneer defense really stepped it up in the second half.
   "We came out with everything we needed except defense," Wade said. "We played hard on offense, it just wasn't going in. Coach just told us to play defense, and everything would come together. We got a whole bunch of turnovers, and we just converted on the other end."
   ETSU head coach Ed DeChellis also thought the key defensive plays made during Wade's explosion helped to put the Bucs on top.
   "They didn't score on the other end," DeChellis said. "We guarded them down here, and we were getting stuff and playing with the momentum. Tiras made some big shots, but they didn't score for a while."
   Wade's performance seemed to get his teammates going. After the scoring barrage put on by Wade, Zakee Wadood and Ryan Lawson hit big three-pointers to put the Bucs up 67-57 with 6:36 left to go in the contest.
   Wadood made all five shots he attempted from the field to end the night with 13 points. And despite being a post player, he hit two trifectas.
   "He's done a good job of putting the ball on the deck and driving it," DeChellis said. "We're working with him and Jerald (Fields) on spotting up in transition and shooting that three. We think they can do that."
   When the Bucs became cold again late in the second half, the defense continued to hold them together. ETSU went on a 3:30 scoring drought, but only allowed the Bulldogs to hit two field goals during that time.
   UNC-Asheville did make it very interesting late. Ben McGonagil's slam dunk made it a 74-71 game with 18 seconds left.
   But ETSU would not be denied. After Wade made one of two free-throws, UNC Asheville threw the ball out of bounds to seal the deal for the Bucs.
   DeChellis was very happy with how the team bounced back from the early deficit.
   "As disappointed as I was the first half with them, I was very, very proud of them in the second half," DeChellis said. "I thought they played extremely hard. I thought they played extremely well.
   "The bottom line was we finally guarded somebody. We got after them and created some energy."
   It was definitely two different halves of basketball at the Civic Center Wednesday night. UNC-Asheville started the game on a 13-5 run, and they didn't trail in this contest 10:08 mark of the second half.
   ETSU improves to 2-3 on the year after losing road games to Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth and South Carolina.
   It was ETSU's first road win of the year, and DeChellis thought that was needed.
   "We're thrilled to come in here and win," DeChellis said.
   With the loss, UNC-Asheville is still winless at 0-5.
   Fields and Cliff Decoster also hit double figures for the Bucs. Fields poured in 14, while Decoster tallied 11.
   McGonagil and former Tennessee High standout Brandon Carter led the Bulldogs with 13.
   The Bucs will play again next Tuesday at Coastal Carolina.
   ETSU NOTES:
   *The Bulldogs were assessed a technical foul at the start of the game for not turning in their lineup. ETSU's Dimeco Childress missed both technical foul shots.
   *The Bucs continued their dominance in the Asheville Civic Center. ETSU won four Southern Conference Tournaments in that arena between 1989 and 1992.