JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 5, 2008) - The East Tennessee State women's basketball team put the pedal to the metal early by cruising out to a 34-9 start and never looked back as the Lady Bucs routed USC Upstate in the Atlantic Sun opener, 96-55, Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Center.
With the victory, the Lady Bucs improve to 5-7, 1-0 in the A-Sun, while Upstate falls to 4-8, 0-1. ETSU has now won its last five conference openers and eight of its last nine.
"This was as good of a start that I have seen in a very long time," mentioned head ETSU women's basketball coach Karen Kemp, who now has 29 victories in Atlantic Sun regular season games. "Without Siarre (Evans) playing, I told everyone they had to step up their game. Like you saw, everyone who stepped out on the floor today did exactly that."
The Lady Bucs have been great so far in '08 as six players reached double figures in the scoring column, which marked ETSU's largest win since defeating Western Carolina by the same margin back on Feb. 22, 1995.
Senior Kelly Turman (Atlanta, Ga.), who was averaging 15.3 points per game at home entering Saturday's match-up, led all scorers with her 14-point performance. Devin Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) also sparked the Lady Bucs off the bench, finishing with a season-high 12 points and eight rebounds. Three ETSU players each netted 11, as Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio), Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) and Sabrina Treakle (Richmond, Va.) all accomplished the feat. The 11 points by Treakle set a new career-best for the freshman guard, as she finished a perfect 4-of-4 (3-for-3 from three) and dished out four assists and forced five steals. Belcher enjoyed her second straight start, tallying her second career double-double by tying her career-high with 12 boards. Rounding out the Lady Buccaneer scoring attack was freshman post Brittany Daniels (Shellman, Ga.), contributing with a career-high 10 points in 11 minutes of action.
In the first half, the Lady Bucs opened up hitting 13 of their first 16 shots; including a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc (DeVault was 3-for-3). TaRonda Wiles' (Danville, Va.) lay-up at the 12:09 mark put ETSU up 32-9. From there, Upstate really could not find any rhythm as ETSU's suffocating defense forced the Spartans to turn the ball over 15 times in the half, resulting in 27 points on the other end for the Lady Bucs. ETSU would hold Upstate without a field goal for the final six minutes and forty-three seconds and gained its largest lead of the stanza, when Turman's three-pointer gave the Lady Buccaneers a 35-point advantage, 54-19, heading into the break. The trey by Turman was only her second of her career and first in almost two years when she sank one against Jacksonville on Jan. 7, 2006.
The Lady Bucs began the second half extending their lead to 48 as Treakle's three-pointer made it 75-27 with 12:05 left in the contest. Upstate would never be able to lower the deficit past 40, and Nichele Akers' (Sumter, S.C.) jumper with 6:14 on the clock gave ETSU its largest mark of the game and the season at 49, 86-37. Akers enjoyed her first start of the campaign as she filled in for the injured Evans.
ETSU finished the game scoring the most points since putting up 95 against Kennesaw State last year. The Lady Bucs drained a season-high 35 field goals and finished 46.7 percent from the floor, compared to only 35.2 percent (19-54) by the Spartans. Once again, ETSU crushed the opponent on the glass, out-rebounding Upstate, 56-29, including 23 on the offensive end. Wiles helped contribute on the boards as she posted her second straight contest with 10 rebounds (tying her career mark). However, the most glaring stats were the 57 Lady Buccaneer bench points and the 43 points off turnovers (ETSU forced 26). The Lady Bucs also finished with a season-high 23 assists, which marked the most since Kemp's club dished out 22 against Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun quarterfinals last March.
USC Upstate's Cherale Powell and Kasey Thompson each scored 13 in the loss.
The Lady Bucs, who were without Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) for the first time since she arrived on campus (43 total games), responded nicely in her absence. The sophomore guard injured her foot during the week and is listed as day-to-day.
"Siarre is day-to-day and hopefully we will see her out on the floor Tuesday night against Liberty," added Kemp.
ETSU continues its season-long four-game home stand as they host the Lady Flames Tuesday night inside Memorial Center. Tip is slated for 7 p.m.
Please visit www.ETSUBucs.com for more information regarding the Lady Buccaneer basketball and all other athletic news.