Eagles Upset Bucs in Thriller at Alico Arena
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The East Tennessee State men’s basketball team came to Fort Myers as the lone remaining unbeaten team in the Atlantic Sun. After Monday night’s game, they no longer hold that distinction. Delvin Franklin scored 18 points and the Eagles closed out the game on a 15-4 run to upset the ETSU Buccaneers, 64-61, in front of 1,455 fans at Alico Arena.
Early on the Bucs opened up a 16-8 margin, after Mike Smith drilled a three with 11:59 left in the first half. Delvin Franklin knocked down a free throw with 7:08 left to cut the margin to 4 points at 23-19, but FGCU was unable to get any closer in the first half. ETSU ended the first half on a 6-0 run to carry a 30-22 lead into the break.
FGCU came out in the second half and jumped on the Bucs right away, pulling even at 36-36 just 3:28 into the half. But ETSU would respond with a 9-1 run to regain their 8-point edge with 13:37 left. The Bucs would hold on to a healthy lead for awhile, and after an Isiah Brown dunk, ETSU held a 51-42 lead with 10:57 to play. The Eagles quickly cut into the 9-point lead, as Reggie Chambers knocked down a jumper and a three-pointer and Ed Rolax hit a pair of free throws to pull within 2 at 51-49. Once again the Bucs responded, running off six straight points to reassert an 8-point lead with 6:55 remaining in the game. A few minutes later, Delvin Franklin connected on a three-point shot to bring the Eagles back to within 3 points at 59-56. Kevin Tiggs of ETSU knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:28 left, giving the Bucs a 61-57 lead. After Kyle Marks’ shot was blocked by Isiah Brown, Derrick O’Neil drew a foul and hit both free throws, advancing the score to 61-59 with 1:11 to go. On the Bucs next possession, Reggie Chambers picked Courtney Pigram’s pocket and ran the floor to perfection, hitting a layup and drawing a foul. With the scored tied at 61 and just 37 seconds remaining, Chambers connected on the free throw to give FGCU a one-point lead. After ETSU called a timeout, the Bucs held the ball until about 7 seconds left. Pigram handed off to Isiah Brown, who was 3-4 from the field in the game, for the last shot, but Brown’s 18-foot jumper was too strong, and the Eagles’ Delvin Franklin pulled down the rebound off the back iron. Franklin hit both free throws at the other end, and Courtney Pigram’s last second prayer was not answered, and FGCU held on for a 64-61 victory.
For the Buccaneers (11-5, 5-1), Jarvis Jones and Kevin Tiggs each had a team-high 13 points, and Tiggs also pulled down a game-high 9 rebounds and added a game-high 5 steals. Courtney Pigram scored 10 points on 3-14 shooting and also dished out a game-high 8 assists. Mike Smith added 10 points and 7 boards as well.
For the Eagles (8-10, 4-3), Delvin Franklin led all scorers with 18 points in addition to grabbing 7 rebounds. Reed Baker scored 12 points in addition to swiping 7 steals, the most this year by an Eagle and tied for the second most in school history. Derrick O’Neil tallied 9 points, 8 rebounds, and a team-high 4 assists. Reggie Chambers added 14 points and 3 assists as well.
The Eagles will hit the road for a pair of A-Sun contests later this week. First up is a trip to Mercer on Friday, January 16th, at 7:00PM. Then on Sunday, the Eagles will pay a visit to Kennesaw State on Sunday, January 18th, at 3:00PM.
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