STARKVILLE, Miss. (Nov. 20, 2005) - B.J. Banjo (Baltimore, Md.) scored a game-high including five threes as the ETSU women's basketball team stunned Mississippi State, 78-53, Sunday afternoon in Humphrey Coliseum. Sophomore Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) added 19 points of her own, also sinking five threes, in the season-opening win.
ETSU led by 18 at the intermission and by as many as 28 points in the second half. While Banjo scored a game-high 21 and DeVault added 19, senior forward Candace Gibson (Warner Robins, Ga.) added a double-double, tallying 16 points and 10 rebounds.
"I did not expect us to win this big at all," said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. "We had confidence because we played them well at our place last year, but I never dreamed we would win 78-53. The score did surprise me. It is always big to win on the road against an SEC team."
The defense was the difference for the Lady Bucs.
"I am extremely pleased with the way our girls played today," Kemp said. "This year we focused on improving our defense. Our girls came out and played good defense, and that is why we won this afternoon."
Junior guard Sarah Johnson scored the first points of her Maroon and White career by giving MSU an early 3-0 advantage with 18:32 remaining in the period. Following a defensive struggle and some poor offensive execution between both teams, East Tennessee State tied the game at three with 16:20 left in the period.
After ETSU went up 5-3, MSU tied the game for the second time at five with 14:13 to play. From there, the Lady Bucs went up by two only to have the Lady Bulldogs fight back to a seven-all tie at the 13:31 mark.
East Tennessee State went up by two and extended its lead to nine points midway through the period. The Lady Bulldogs used layups from freshman forward Lauren Roberts, freshman guard Robin Porter, freshman guard Marneshia Richard and Sarah Johnson to cut into the Lady Bucs lead, however it was not enough as ETSU took an 18-point advantage into the lockerroom at the intermission, 36-18.
During the first half, East Tennessee State out-rebounded MSU, 26-18. The Lady Bucs also scored 16 points off of 13 State turnovers and got 19 of their 36 points on second-chance shots.
In the second period, the Lady Bucs extended their lead out to 21 with 15:49 left to play and never looked back. Despite an effort to mount a comeback, the Lady Bulldogs only managed to cut the ETSU lead to as little as 17 with 12:05 remaining in the game. Halfway through the period and again at the 8:56 mark, East Tennessee State held its smallest advantage of the period at 16. In the final seven minutes of the contest, ETSU went up by 20 and gradually added to the lead to win by a 25-point margin at 78-53.
"Last year when we went to East Tennessee State, I don't think we played a team the whole year that played as hard as they did," said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning. "We knew they had experience. They were bringing everyone back plus three that played against us last year. We started out I felt like with some intensity, but when you look at what they did well, they rebounded offensively, they made the extra pass, and they took care of the basketball. When you play hard and you play together and have that experience together, you win."
ETSU ended the game scoring 28 points off of 22 MSU turnovers and had 24 second-chance points compared to MState's 14.
Porter led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points, while Roberts added 11.
ETSU returns to action Wednesday night, as the Lady Bucs travel to Cincinatti, for a 6 p.m. start time.