Bucs find Dome home sweet home

By Allen LaMountain

   JOHNSON CITY -- Coming off a three-game road swing in which the East Tennessee State Buccaneers went 0-for-3, on Saturday afternoon the Bucs enjoyed a return to the Memorial Center as well as the winner's circle with an 87-69 victory over UNC-Asheville.
   Freshman point guard Tim Smith -- a late entry to the starting lineup -- put a charge into the Bucs offense with 20 points and five steals as ETSU (3-3) logged five players scoring double figures.
   "I'm a scorer in a point guards body," joked Smith. "We wanted to come out tonight and push the ball up the court. We knew that they couldn't stop us on the break. I think I played good, but I can do better. It felt better starting than coming off the bench."
   Smith led the Bucs scoring parade, which also included 16 points from post Jerald Fields, 14 points from Zakee Wadood, while James Anthony scored 13 and Ryan Lawson tallied 10.
   ETSU now holds an 11-6 advantage head-to-head against UNC-Ashville (2-3) in a series dating back to 1975.
   The Bucs shots were falling from the opening tip as ETSU shot 6-for-10 to open a 14-7 advantage in the early going. ETSU extended to a 25-15 lead at the midway point of the first half as Smith and Anthony each pumped in nine points, while Wadood added seven as the Bucs built a 40-30 halftime advantage.
   "ETSU is not just another SoCon team," said UNC-Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach. "The Bucs jumped on us from the very beginning and were very physical. We didn't respond to the challenge, and they ran us out of our offense. I was pleased that we made a little run at the end of the first half to cut the lead to 10, but we gave it right back to open the second half."
   In the opening half ETSU shot 17-for-36 (47.2 percent) and hit the boards very well with Fields taking down eight of the Bucs 40 total rebounds.
   "Jerald gets frustrated at times when he isn't scoring," admitted Bucs head coach Ed DeChellis. "Tonight I thought he did the other things, like defending and hitting the glass much better. We are trying to find ways to get him the ball down low. Tonight we made a conscious effort to get Fields and Zak the ball."
   Smith and Anthony were a pain to the Bulldogs defensively all night as they employed a half court trap defense that saw the Bucs force 20 turnovers from the Bulldogs who were a step too slow for ETSU on this night.
   In the second half Smith took over, scoring 11 of the Bucs first 21 second-half points as ETSU built a 61-43 lead at the 13-minute mark of regulation. A Sam Oatman trey gave the Bucs a 70-49 advantage as it was becoming obvious that ETSU was not going to allow a letdown or a Bulldog comeback.
   "ETSU is looking for big things from themselves in the SoCon," commented Biedenbach. "Just like we are looking for big things from ourselves in the Big South Conference. Tonight, we just couldn't match them shot-for-shot, so I take my hat off to the Bucs."
   Moments after Oatman's bomb, Wadood also dropped a trey on the 'Dogs to extend ETSU's lead to 75-61 at the 4:50 mark. Wadood also dropped a pair of monstrous dunks on UNC-Ashville, with the last one coming on an alley-oop pass from Smith.
   "It let me get a little frustration out," joked Wadood. "I have been seeing a lot of double-teams so I have to be more active in the offense. Coach stresses that we push the ball and play up-tempo, and that suits me."
   The Bucs lead ballooned to 79-61 after a triple from Lawson at the 3:56 mark and UNC-Asheville simply could not recover enough to make a game of it down the stretch.
   The Bulldogs were led by post Ben McGonagil's 19 points, while guard Andre Smith kicked in 16 points for UNC-A.
   ETSU's next home game is scheduled for Dec. 14 against UVA-Wise and will open its SoCon slate on Jan. 4 with a home contest against UNC-Greensboro.