Stetson Upsets ETSU 74-71 in Overtime
January 28, 2006
Johnson City, Tenn. ' With the shouts of 5,067 partisan fans filling the Memorial Center, Gabe McMillen calmly knocked down a pair of free throws with 6.5 seconds left in overtime to lift Stetson to a 74-71 Atlantic Sun Conference victory over ETSU on Saturday afternoon.
When Tim Smith was stripped by Anthony Register on the Buccaneers' next possession, the Hatters (3-16, 3-8 A-Sun) had officially erased a six-game overall losing streak and a 15-game road losing streak dating back to last year.
'It was an excellent team effort,' Hatters head coach Derek Waugh said.? 'We had guys step up tonight and make absolutely tremendous plays.? I couldn't be more proud of the team.'
The Buccaneers (11-8, 8-4 A-Sun) came into the game having won five straight and 10 of their last 11, including a 36-point victory over first-place Kennesaw State on Wednesday night.
'ETSU is a team that is hot and playing well,' Waugh said.? 'They have been blowing people out and to come in here and get a win is just really big for us.'
The Hatters trailed by three at the half and fell behind by as many as six with 11:16 to go, but Kris Thomas' three-pointer ignited a 10-0 run that gave Stetson the lead.? After the Bucs rallied to tie the game at 58, Stetson went back ahead by six on a basket by Register with 2:39 to go.? But back-to-back threes by Courtney Pigram evened the score at 66-66, and neither team could break the tie in the final minutes of regulation.
In the overtime period, a Dillion Sneed dunk and a Smith floater put ETSU ahead 70-68, but Eric Diaz answered with a three-pointer to give Stetson a brief 71-70 advantage.? Brad Nuckles split a pair of free throws with 1:18 to go to tie the game at 71.? After both teams missed opportunities to take the lead, McMillen was fouled by Sneed on a drive to the basket in the closing seconds.
ETSU tried to freeze McMillen by calling a timeout between free throw attempts, but the Hatter junior hit both shots to put Stetson ahead 73-71.? The Bucs quickly brought the ball down court, but Register poked the ball loose from Smith into the hands of Gordon, who was fouled and sunk one final free throw to seal the victory.
'The bottom line is Stetson just made more plays than we did and they deserved to win,' ETSU head coach Murry Bartow said.? 'You have to give them a lot of credit.'
Register, who has scored 66 points in his last three games, led all scorers with 19 points and added five steals.
'To win one in overtime at someone else's place, and against a good team at that is a great feeling,' Register said.
Joining Register in double figures was Garfield Blair and Gordon with 11 points each and McMillen with 10.? Gordon also had eight rebounds and collected his 200th career steal.
'This should be a big confidence boost for everyone,' Gordon said.? 'We know that we have the talent level but we have not achieved it until tonight.? This victory should help us play up to our capabilities.'
Travis Strong had 17 points to lead the Bucs and Pigram added 16.? Smith, who entered the game with the ninth-highest scoring average in the nation at 23.9 points per game, was held to just 10 points by the Hatter defense.
'We played our match zones very well,' Waugh said.? 'I don't know if anyone in the league or in the country can stop him one-on-one, but it was a great team effort.'
During Stetson's six-game losing streak, the Hatters had lost four games by single digits including last Tuesday's heartbreaking loss in overtime to Mercer.? The Bucs, meanwhile, had won its last five games by an average of 20 points per game.
'We have had so many close games, but we needed a close game win,' Waugh said.? 'Hopefully this victory will propel us down the stretch.'
Stetson will look to make it two in a row as the Hatters visit Kennesaw State at 7 p.m. Monday night.?
Notes: The Bucs were without starting guard Ben Rhoda, who was forced to sit out after collecting two technical fouls in their previous game against Kennesaw State ... Memorial Center is a spacious 13,000 seat arena that also used to be the home field for the ETSU football team ... It was 'Tim Smith Bobble Head Day' at the Memorial Center ... The game marked Stetson's first-ever trip to Johnson City, but the Hatters took a big step to making a return trip in March for the conference tournament ... Gordon became the first player in Stetson history and the sixth player in A-Sun history with 200 career steals ... Three of ETSU's four A-Sun losses have come in overtime ... It was Anthony Register's 99th career game.