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Sports

Streaking Bucs win 10th game in a row

February 5th, 2007 11:48 pm by KELLY HODGE



JOHNSON CITY - The wins have been mounting for weeks, but not many have come easily for the East Tennessee State men's basketball team.


Monday night was a welcome exception.


Dequan Twilley hit five 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 15 points, and the Bucs breezed past Campbell 87-57 for their 10th straight win. It was ETSU's largest margin of victory over a Division I opponent this season.


"This was kind of a breather and relaxed us a little bit," said Twilley, the freshman point guard. "That was nice for a change."


The Bucs were on the mark from the 3-point arc, hitting 11-of-26. Many were open looks as the Camels dared Twilley and Tayloe Taylor to shoot.


Twilley, a 29 percent shooter from long range for the season, responded by swishing 5-of-9.


"He doesn't have a good percentage, but we think he's a good shooter," said ETSU coach Murry Bartow. "It was great to see him bust out."


The Bucs (18-7, 12-1 Atlantic Sun Conference) will try to keep their winning streak going Thursday night at Jacksonville.


"Murry has done a tremendous job with this club," said Campbell coach Robbie Laing. "They have excellent balance inside and out, and they're very good defensively. When they're on their game, they're the class of the conference."


Laing doesn't have much trouble making that assessment. The Bucs raced past the Camels 100-76 in their first meeting this season, and this one came even easier.


The Bucs used runs of 13 and 11 points to take a 43-23 lead at halftime. The Camels (10-13, 5-8) - who dropped their third straight game - fell into the deep hole by shooting 24 percent from the field and committing 14 turnovers.


Things only got worse from there.


The Bucs took their largest lead at 82-46, then emptied the bench.


Eleven men eventually scored - and there was even Petras Balocka, the 6-foot-8, 260-pound freshman, throwing an alley-oop pass to walk-on Nick Tuggle during the final minute.


"It's about time we separated ourselves from a team," said ETSU guard Courtney Pigram. "I enjoyed this tonight. I'm glad my teammates had a chance to play."


Pigram, the Bucs' leading scorer, finished with 13 points in 21 minutes. He went 6-of-9 from the field.


Eryk Thomas also scored 13 for the Bucs, and Andrew Reed collected 10 and blocked four shots. Taylor dished out seven assists.


It was a long night for Jonathan Rodriguez, the Camels' heralded freshman forward. Rodriguez came into the contest as the A-Sun's third-leading scorer at 16.7 points a game, but managed only eight on 1-for-10 shooting.


Kyle Vejraska, another freshman from Florida, led the Camels with 16 points and eight rebounds.


Campbell came in as the league's top-scoring team at more than 79 ppg, but its offense has hit the wall lately. Monday night marked the fifth game in the past six in which the Camels have scored fewer than 65 points.


"Our biggest problem is we're throwing the ball to the other team," Laing noted. "We had 24 turnovers tonight."


The Bucs turned those into 35 points to pave the rout. They also shot 48 percent from the field while holding the Camels to 27 percent.


The odd stat of the night: ETSU was 4-of-6 at the foul line, Campbell was 21-of-31.


Bartow had few complaints afterward. He also enjoyed a little margin for error.


"We've had so many tight games," he said. "It's great to win tight games, but it's good to play more guys. That may help us down the road."


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