BUIES CREEK, N.C. (Feb. 23, 2008) - For the second time this season the ETSU women's basketball team needed a second half spark to lift them past Campbell. On Saturday, the Lady Bucs outscored the Lady Camels 42-29 during the final 20 minutes en route to a 17-point victory, 78-61, inside Carter Gym.
The victory kept ETSU atop the conference standings as they pushed its mark to 16-11, 12-2 in A-Sun play, while Campbell fell to 10-16, 5-8. The Lady Bucs now hold sole possession of first after Kennesaw State knocked off Jacksonville, 75-71, in overtime Saturday afternoon, and guaranteed ETSU at least a number two seed in the Atlantic Sun Tournament. ETSU is now a perfect 6-0 lifetime against the Lady Camels and have won 10 of their last 11 contests.
Senior Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) was one of four Lady Buccaneer players to reach double figures in scoring as she poured in a game-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The sophomore trio of Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.), TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) and Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) rounded out the rest of ETSU's scoring attack. Evans netted 15, Wiles 12, and Belcher had 11 and five rebounds.
"Our goal today was to come out and put a lot of pressure on them," added head coach Karen Kemp, who saw her club do just that as they scored 30 points off 24 Campbell turnovers. "That pressure is what kept us in the game during the first half. We need to come out focused during these final two regular season games, because they will be gunning for us."
The first half was tightly contested as neither team could establish any offensive rhythm with the teams combining for five ties and three lead changes. ETSU opened up hitting only two of its first seven shots and trailed 7-5 at the first media break. The Lady Bucs found a little offensive spark as they scored nine of the next 13 points to take a 14-11 lead, forcing Campbell to call its first timeout at the 13:30 mark. However, Campbell responded and regained a three-point lead, 19-16, by posting an 8-2 run. Then, with the game tied at 23, ETSU used an 11-4 run to take its largest lead of the half, 34-28, when Evans laid one in with 2:43 remaining in the half. Campbell held the Lady Bucs to only two points in the final two and half minutes and clipped the deficit to four, 36-32.
ETSU shot 40 percent (14-35) in the first 20 minutes, compared to Campbell's 57.1 shooting clip (12-21). The Lady Bucs held a 3-to-1 ratio in the foul department as they were called for 15; however, poor free throw shooting kept Campbell from holding the lead. The Lady Camels were 6-of-18 (33.3 percent) from the charity stripe, while ETSU was 6-for-8 (75 percent). ETSU's pressure defense was another factor why they were in the contest, forcing Campbell to cough the ball up 14 times. In result, the Lady Bucs turned those miscues into 17 points on the other end. DeVault led all scorers at the half with 9, and Laruen Yesh led the Lady Camels with eight.
Campbell tied the game at 36 with four unanswered points to start the second frame, but ETSU retaliated with a 28-8 blitz to take a 64-44 lead when DeVault sank one of her five treys at the 11:04 mark. Evans, Belcher, and DeVault took over during the stretch as they accounted for 24 of those points, while freshman Kami Phillips (Augusta, Ga.) was getting it done with her passing. Phillips dished out six of her career-high 11 assists during the run. The charge sucked all the juice out of the Lady Camels as ETSU saw its lead grow to 24, 75-51, when Kelly Turman (Atlanta) nailed a jumper with 4:55 left. The spurt gave coach Kemp the opportunity to pull her starters and rest them for remainder of the game.
ETSU went 17-of-27 from the floor in the second half and shot an even 50 percent for the game (31-62). Campbell fell apart in the second frame as they only hit 8-of-24 from the field and finished 44 percent (20-45). Once again the Lady Bucs were playing unselfish ball, totaling 22 assists and forcing 13 steals. The only disappointment on the day was the 29 personal fouls called on ETSU, but the Lady Camels struggled from the line, going 19-of-35 (54.3 percent).
The Lady Bucs now depart for Boiling Springs, N.C. and prepare for a critical conference showdown with Gardner-Webb Monday night. Tip versus the Runnin' Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. inside Paul Porter Arena. Gardner-Webb handed ETSU its lone conference home loss back on Jan. 12, 82-71, but a Lady Buccaneer win will at least give ETSU a share of the conference crown.
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