ETSU becomes first team to punch its ticket to the Big Dance in 2009
Trailing 43-39 with 9:40 to play, the ETSU women's basketball team dug deep and showed
The victory not only gave the Lady Bucs their third straight 20-win season (20-10), but ETSU also became the first team to punch its ticket to the 2009 NCAA Tournament. In addition, ETSU became the first team since
Three Lady Buccaneer players scored in double figures with junior forward TaRonda Wiles (
"You know it really feels good to get another championship under our belt," commented head coach Karen Kemp, who has now guided the Lady Bucs to three straight postseason appearances. "We had to fight there for forty minutes, but fortunately, we kept our composure when they made runs and were able to bring another championship back to
The opening six minutes of the first half were tightly contested as the teams combined for one tie and five lead changes, but with the Lady Bucs up 9-8;
ETSU answered the JU attack with an 8-2 spurt and got to within three, 22-19, after White laid one in with 5:11 remaining in the half. Then, after
After shooting 62.1 percent from the field in the first half against Mercer on Friday, ETSU couldn't get going on offense to start the opening 20 minutes of the championship contest. The Lady Bucs were held to a dismal 30.3 shooting percentage (10-33) and finished only 2-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Jacksonville opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Courtney Jackson, but the Lady Bucs continued to fight and Wiles' baseline jumper cut the deficit to four, 31-27, with 17:48 left in the contest.
From there, ETSU continued building its run, and Gwen Washington's (Manassas, Va.) first field goal of the game put the Lady Bucs on top 34-33 with 15:17 on the clock - giving the top-seeded team their first lead since the 14:18 mark of the first half (9-8). Overall the Lady Bucs mounted a 12-0 run and grabbed a 39-33 lead after Evans sank a trey in front of the ETSU bench, but
The Dolphins responded with 10 unanswered of their own and regained a 43-39 lead when Valerie Jones connected on a jumper, but an Evans three and a Belcher lay in quickly put ETSU back up 44-43 at the 8:55 mark.
Those shots by Evans and Belcher fueled a 12-0 run as ETSU's defense kept JU scoreless for over six minutes and twelve seconds, and the Lady Bucs built a 51-43 lead with less than four minutes to play.
Then, with ETSU leading 55-45,
For the game the Lady Bucs shot 37.3 percent (22-59) and after struggling from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, ETSU knocked down 3 of its 6 three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes to finish 5-of-16 (31.3 percent). ETSU also cleaned up on the glass - out-rebounding the Dolphins - 50 to 37.
The Dolphins were led by Regina Omoite's 10 points.
Joining Evans on the all-tournament team included First Team All-Atlantic Sun selection TaRonda Wiles. Wiles and Evans have now been selected to the squad for the last two seasons.
The Lady Bucs will now enjoy some time off before learning their destination to the NCAA Tournament. ESPN will air its Selection Monday special on March 16th - beginning at 7 p.m. The 2009 NCAA Tournament will begin its first round play the weekend of March 21 and 22.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.