JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 18, 2003) - Down by nine points with just under five minutes remaining, the East Tennessee State women's basketball team put together a 22-5 run to close out the game as the Lady Bucs took care of visiting Elon Thursday, 64-54, from Memorial Center.
Senior Kiya Verdell (Hartwell, Ga.) scored eight of her 14 points in the last five minutes to lead the ETSU comeback. The Lady Bucs (2-6, 2-1 SoCon) have won both of their home contests this season, each over Southern Conference opponents. Meanwhile, Elon (3-5, 0-2 SoCon) remains winless on the road in four tries.
"The first 35 minutes was probably the worst basketball I've ever seen," said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. "But we pulled together at the end, and I'm proud of the way we were able to fight back."
Both teams shot just 32.1 percent from the floor in the first half, as the score was knotted at 22-22 going into halftime. For the game, the Phoenix turned the ball over 31 times just edging 26 turnovers by ETSU. However, the Lady Bucs were able to knock down their free throws near the end and shot much better in the second half in defeating Elon.
"You can't allow a team to shoot 48 percent from the floor like they did in the second half and expect to win," said Elon head coach Brenda Paul. "They wanted it more than we did. The bottom line is ETSU played to win the game."
A number of ETSU players stepped up to fill in for senior Lauren Trantham (Asheville, N.C.), who was limited to 13 minutes of playing time due to illness. Junior center Tiffani Mayes (Sumter, S.C.) matched Verdell's total by scoring 14 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. Senior Jessica Lonon (Sylvania, Ga.), who started in place of Trantham, contributed 11 points and five steals, while freshman Brooke Wilhoit (Sevierville, Tenn.) scored 10. Verdell also added six rebounds, five assists, and four steals in the winning cause.
Brianne Gray notched a double-double in leading the Phoenix with 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 14 rebounds. Gray also tallied a team-high five steals. Jessica Williams knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 14 points on the evening. Holly Andrews, the SoCon's leading scorer (17.7 ppg.) going into Thursday's game, shot just 1-of-7 seven from the floor in being held to five points.
Memorial Center will be the sight of a Buccaneer basketball doubleheader this Saturday, Dec. 20. The ETSU women will host Wofford at Noon, followed by the Buccaneer men, who will take on non-conference UVA-Wise at 2:30 p.m. For tickets, please call the ETSU ticket office at 423-439-5371.