JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 24, 2007) - Senior Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) stepped her game up to a new level and was destined to lead the ETSU women's basketball team to victory Saturday afternoon, as she scored a career-high 25 points, lifting the Lady Bucs over Evansville 77-74 inside Memorial Center.
The Columbus, Ohio native was one of three Lady Buccaneer players to reach double figures in scoring. DeVault played the entire 40 minutes and shot 7-of-10 from the field, including a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line, as she broke her previous best of 22 points which was set last season at Kennesaw State. Joining DeVault in double figures was the Georgia duo of guard Kelly Turman (Atlanta) and sophomore Siarre Evans (Griffin). Turman scored 14 points in 25 minutes of work, while Evans netted 10 for ETSU. Evansville's Rebekah Parker led four Purple Ace players in double figures, tying her season-high with 22 points.
Both halves of basketball were tightly contested and as exciting as they come, with both teams holding its largest lead at eight points. Fortunately, for the Lady Buccaneers their largest lead came at the 5:21 mark in the second half, when a Turman jumper gave ETSU a 70-62 advantage. From that point on ETSU never trailed; however, Evansville still stuck around. The Purple Aces scored six unanswered points, cutting their eight-point deficit to three, 70-67, with 3:51 left in the contest. Then with 2:46 remaining, ETSU received a huge spark from freshman guard Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), as she nailed one of her two three-point field goals, giving the Lady Buccaneers a 73-67 lead. The Purple Aces would get back to within three on twice in the final 16 seconds, but Courtney Felke's desperation heave as time expired could not find the basket.
ETSU shot a season-high 48.4 percent (30-62) for the ballgame, while Evansville finished 27-of-57 (47.4 percent). Both teams were sensational from the charity stripe, combining to shoot 93.3 percent (28-for-30). The Lady Bucs were a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line, compared to 16-for-18 by the Purple Aces. Despite committing 19 turnovers, the Lady Bucs did an excellent job limiting their unforced errors in the final 20 minutes, as ETSU only coughed the ball up six times in the final frame.
The first half saw eight lead changes and four ties. Evansville jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but senior post Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.) quickly ended the run with two consecutive buckets. ETSU would take its only lead in the first 20 minutes when Davis' three-pointer gave the Lady Bucs a 7-6 lead with 18:06 on the clock. The game remained tight during the next 14 minutes, until Evansville used a 6-0 run to take its largest lead of the game, 35-27, with 4:20 left before the break. However, ETSU cooled the Purple Aces, scoring 11 of the final 15 points in the half to only trail by one, 39-38, when the Lady Buccaneers entered the locker room.
DeVault netted 11 of her 25 points in the first frame, and guided the Lady Bucs to a 55.2 shooting clip (16-29). Evansville was led by Anaris Sickles' 10 points, and the Purple Aces closed out the first 20 minutes with a 40-percent (12-30) shooting percentage. Free throws were the difference maker, with UE going to the line 10 more times than ETSU. The Lady Bucs were 4-of-4, compared to 13-of-14 from the Purple Aces from the charity stripe in the first half.
With the victory, ETSU snapped a two-game skid, pushing its mark to 2-3 on the early season; while Evansville's record also moved to 2-3.
The Lady Buccaneers will close out their 2007 home schedule next Saturday when ETSU hosts reigning Big South Tournament champion UNC Asheville at 1:30 p.m. from Memorial Center. Please visit www.ETSUBucs.com for updated Lady Buccaneer news and statistics.