NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mar. 8, 2008) - ETSU is going Dancin'.
Sophomore post Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) scored a career high 24 points and three teammates scored in double figures, as the ETSU women's basketball team made history, earning the Lady Bucs' first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament field of 64 with a 75-72 win over Jacksonville Saturday afternoon in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship game at Allen Arena.
The Lady Bucs did it by outlasting a frantic 12-2 run by the Dolphins in the final four minutes.
Seeing its 14-point lead dwindle to one, 68-67, with 2:19 to play, the Lady Bucs made some stops and received clutch shots from senior Kelly Turman (
The win moved ETSU to 21-11 overall and tied the school record for most wins in a single season. The Lady Bucs have also won eight straight and 15 of their last 16 games. ETSU's current winning streak ties the longest in program history as it has only been accomplished four different times.
Belcher's stellar play earned her Tournament MVP accolades as she averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and 5.3 steals over the three-game stretch. The
Senior Michele DeVault (
In the first half, Belcher ignited the Lady Bucs as she scored eight of their first 12 points to take an early seven point advantage, forcing
The Lady Buccaneers shot 38.2 percent (13-34) and
ETSU continued to hold its 16-point advantage as they led 51-35 heading into the first media timeout of the second half. Once again DeVault stepped up when the Lady Buccaneers needed her, because her three from the corner ended a brief JU rally and put ETSU up 49-33.
After the Lady Bucs held a double digit lead since 7:37 left in the first half, JU finally was able to lower its deficit to nine, 56-47, with 9:40 remaining. The Dolphins actually pulled to within eight on three different possessions, but ETSU had answers for each threat. Turman came through with a huge layup, putting the Lady Bucs back up 10, 62-52, with less than seven minutes left.
Then, with ETSU leading 66-52, the Dolphins posted their run to get within a point, but the Lady Buccaneers proved they wanted the tournament bid more. After being defeated in the championship game to
For the game, ETSU was 27-for-61 (44.3 percent) and held JU to 27-of-72 shooting (37.5 percent). The Dolphins, who like to shoot the three, only made four and shot a dismal 21.1 percent from behind the arc. The Lady Buccaneers' five extra free throws proved to be critical as they made 19 to JU's 14. Both teams grabbed 43 rebounds and scored 14 second-chance points off their offensive boards.
Along with Belcher, Evans (10 points) and Turman (11 points) were the other two ETSU players to score in double figures. Belcher finished 8-of-11 from the field, 6-of-7 from the free throw line and grabbed eight rebounds. Eight of Evans' points also came from the charity stripe and she finished with five rebounds and two assists. Turman was 5-of-7 from the floor and produced big numbers in only 12 minutes of work.
The Lady Buccaneers will now enjoy some time off as they have to wait for the rest of the field to file in during the next week and two days.