Brown scored a career-high 18 points as East Tennessee State rolled past Kennesaw State 76-62 Tuesday night at the KSU Convocation Center. The 6-foot-8 freshman spent much of the game above the basket, finishing with six dunks, all of which were rim-rattlers.
“Isiah’s bouncy and he’s got so much enthusiasm,” ETSU coach Murry Bartow said. “And the best thing about him is he’s only a freshman. He’s a young colt and he does some things you can’t coach. He’s going to get better and better and better.”
The Bucs (8-3) won their fifth consecutive game and improved to 2-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. It was their fifth road victory.
“It was a tough game,” said ETSU’s Mike Smith, who scored 19 points. “It’s two days before Christmas and everybody wants to go home. We just had to make sure we did what we needed to to get the ‘W.’”
Brown had not scored more than nine points in a single game. He had eight in a row at one point in the second half as the Bucs iced their latest victory. He had three slams in a row as ETSU stretched its lead to 18 points, its biggest of the night.
“It felt great,” said Brown, who made 9 of 10 shots and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. “I was just cleaning up wherever I could. I’d say that does wonders for my confidence, but I’m not the type of player who gets too high or too low.”
By ETSU-Kennesaw State standards, it was a calm game. Other than a technical foul on Kennesaw State coach Tony Ingle, an elbow-swinging foul on Smith and a shot to Smith’s nose, there weren’t any altercations.
Kevin Tiggs, who was named the A-Sun’s co-player of the week earlier in the day, got off to a slow start. He came in averaging 28.8 points a game in December, yet shot only one time in the first half. He finished with 19 points, 16 of which came after halftime.
“We talked about that at halftime,” Bartow said. “Kevin needs to get his shots, and he did in the second half.”
Courtney Pigram added 15 points for the Bucs, who had four players in double figures for the second time this season.
ETSU, which never trailed, held the Owls scoreless for a six-minute stretch midway through the first half. Kennesaw State missed two dunks during that span, allowing the Bucs to grab a 21-12 lead. Spencer Dixon, a backup point guard for Kennesaw State, made back-to-back 3-point shots to make it 23-20.
A five-point possession helped the Bucs stretch their advantage. Greg Hamlin was fouled while scoring, and Ingle was whistled for a technical when he showed his displeasure. As Ingle briefly argued the call, the Kennesaw State pep band played Christmas music.
Tiggs made the two technical free throws and Hamlin converted his, giving ETSU a 28-20 lead with 3:17 left in the first half.
Kelvin McConnell made consecutive 3-pointers to start the second half to make it a two-point game. Pigram then drilled a long one of his own. The Owls (5-5, 1-1) climbed to within two points three times, only to have ETSU make 3-point shots.
“The difference was when they needed to make a play, they did it every time,” Ingle said. “We made some plays, but they did it every time. That’s a good team. Sometimes I thought we were right in their face and they made it.”
Tiggs gave the Bucs a 53-42 advantage, its first double-digit lead of the night, by swishing a 3-pointer with 11:40 left.
McConnell led the Owls with 18 points. Jon-Michael Nickerson added 13 and Kurtis Woods had 12.
The Bucs were out-rebounded 37-25, but forced 19 turnovers.
ETSU returns to action Dec. 30 with a home game against Morehead State.