JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 14, 2008) - The ETSU women's basketball team displayed its best defensive effort of the season as they forced a school-record 24 steals and outscored Campbell by 21 points in the second half to claim a, 72-53, come from behind victory Monday evening inside Memorial Center.
With the win, ETSU improves to 6-9, 2-1 in A-Sun play; while Campbell falls to 6-11, 1-2. The Lady Bucs have now won all five games in the short-lived series.
Three Lady Buccaneer players reached double figures in scoring with senior Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.) and sophomore TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) each netting a game-high 16 points. The 16 points by Norman set a new season best as she finished 7-of-8 from the floor. Sophomore post Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) just missed her third career double-double, posting 12 points, nine rebounds, five steals, three assists and three blocks in a career-high 31 minutes of action.
After trailing by two to begin the second half, the Lady Bucs stormed out of the locker room by scoring 18 unanswered points to take a 42-26 lead with 10:13 left in the contest. During the run ETSU held the Lady Camels scoreless for 11 minutes and 35 seconds (starting with 1:17 to go in the first half) and forced 10 turnovers, resulting in nine points in the stampede. ETSU opened the final 20 minutes with a 3-pointer from freshman Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), and then Davis found Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) for another three with only one minute and ten seconds coming off the clock to gain a 30-26 advantage. From there, the quick spark lifted ETSU's play to another level as the Lady Buccaneers would never relinquish the lead.
ETSU would extend its lead to double digits, 36-26, when freshman point guard Sabrina Treakle (Richmond, Va.) found Belcher under the basket for an easy lay-up with 14:42 on the clock. The Lady Bucs never let Campbell inch any closer as Norman pushed ETSU's mark to 22, 54-32, by connecting on back-to-back lay-ups; which were both assisted by Kami Phillips (Augusta, Ga.), who finished with six of the Lady Bucs' season-high 23 assists. The final highlight of the game came when Wiles set the new school record by forcing the 24th steal of the ball game with 1:58 remaining. The Danville, Va. native finished with a career-high six steals (three shy of tying the school record).
"I told the team at halftime that we were playing pretty good defense and we just needed to come out with the same intensity," mentioned head coach Karen Kemp, whose club broke an eight-year-old school steals record Monday night. "I knew if we came out strong in the second half our defense would be able to force turnovers which would lead to us scoring some quick points on the offensive end. Our team played tough defense the entire 40 minutes and we were finally able to connect on all cylinders in the second half."
The Lady Bucs shot 17-of-27 (63 percent) in the second half to finish at 47.4 percent (27-57) for the game, compared to Campbell's 31.5 clip (17-54). ETSU's defense limited the Lady Camels to only seven field goals in the final 20 minutes. Despite being out-rebounded, 38-36, the Lady Bucs became physical and won the battle of boards 20-16 in the second half. Along with the defensive showing, ETSU also forced a season-high 32 turnovers on the night.
In a half that was anything but perfect, Campbell took a two point lead into the locker room, 26-24. Both teams fought hard defensively as they combined to force more turnovers (31) than total team field goals made (20). The Lady Bucs looked to have things in control early; opening up to a 10-2 run when Wiles hit a lay-up at the 15:17 mark. However, things went tumbling down hill for ETSU when sophomore leader Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) was forced to leave the contest with an undisclosed injury, giving Campbell a chance to come back into the game. The Lady Camels gained momentum as the Lady Bucs' defense let Campbell score 24 points in the final 15 minutes, while ETSU was only held to 14 during the stretch.
For the first 20 minutes the Lady Bucs shot a dismal 33.3 percent (10-30), compared to Campbell's slightly better 37 percent clip (10-27). The major reason for the Lady Camels holding the lead was due to the fact they out-rebounded ETSU, 22-16, which turned into seven second-chance points to the Lady Bucs' zero. Wiles led ETSU in scoring with eight and Lynisha Ochogu chipped in nine for Campbell.
The Lady Camels were led by Murphy and Ochogu's 12-point performances, and Murphy also posted her 11th double-double of the season by finishing with a game-high 12 rebounds.
The previous school record for steals in a game was set on Feb. 19, 2000 when ETSU forced 23 against College of Charleston.
ETSU will now embark on a three-game road swing that begins Wednesday night in Boone, N.C. The Lady Bucs will face Appalachian State inside the Holmes Center at 7 p.m.
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