After squandering a 17-point second half lead and missing golden opportunities to win it in regulation, the Lady Buccaneers stepped up and flexed their muscles in the five-minute overtime period to escape with a 79-78 victory over Kennesaw State inside the KSU Convocation Center.
Juniors Siarre Evans (
With the win, ETSU improved to 6-0 lifetime against the Owls, but more importantly it gave the Lady Bucs some much-needed momentum heading into the Christmas break. The Lady Bucs moved their record to 3-5, 1-1 A-Sun after picking up back-to-back road wins, and ETSU will now have a 10-day break before playing at
Despite being held to only six second half field goals and one in the overtime period, the Lady Bucs took charge at the charity stripe. ETSU made its lone field goal attempt with 4:52 remaining in the extra time, but seven free throws to KSU's one proved to be the difference maker.
Evans gave the Lady Bucs a quick two-point lead, 72-70, in overtime, but a free throw by Jennifer Baker and a Montinique Nixon jumper gave the Owls a 73-72 advantage with 3:33 remaining. From there, ETSU went to the free throw line 10 times down the stretch, beginning with two big freebies by freshman post Gwen Washington (
Following a Kennesaw State five-second inbound violation, Belcher was fouled and her free throws put ETSU back up one, and two more foul shots by the Martinsville, Va. native with 1:20 to go gave the Lady Bucs a 78-75 advantage. Then, with ETSU up four, Angie Smith nailed her first 3-pointer of the game - cutting the Lady Buc margin to one - 79-78. However, sophomore guard Tara Davis (
After shooting a season-high 52.6 percent (20-38) in the first half, the Lady Bucs were held to 7-for-39 for the remainder of the game - finishing with a 35.1 clip (27-77). ETSU was 20-of-29 (69 percent) from the foul line, compared to 15-for-23 (65.2) by
In the first half, the opening 10 minutes were tightly contest as neither team could establish any breathing room. Both squads combined for three ties and seven lead changes in the span; however, things changed in the final 10 minutes as ETSU took full advantage of the first stanza.
From there, the teams traded buckets over the next five minutes, but with the Owls leading, 21-17, the Lady Bucs used some Kennesaw State foul trouble and stifling defense to break the game open. With Brittney Henderson - last season's A-Sun Player of the Year - being sent to the bench with two fouls at the 9:21 mark, ETSU held the Owls to only two field goals in the final seven minutes which ignited a big Lady Buccaneer run. In addition, strong 3-point shooting and unselfish play also led to ETSU outscoring Kennesaw 29-11 throughout the rest of the half.
With Kennesaw leading 21-19, Evans nailed back-to-back treys to put ETSU ahead 25-21 with less than nine minutes to go before intermission. Freshman Natalie Pickwell (
ETSU shot a blistering 52.6 percent (20-38) in the opening half and hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc. Kennesaw was held to a 38.7 shooting clip (12-31) and went 0 for 3 from 3-point land. The Lady Buccaneer defense forced the Owls into 13 first half turnovers - resulting in 19 points on the offensive end. ETSU enjoyed a well-balanced scoring attack as eight of the nine Lady Buccaneer players who saw action scored at least two points, with Evans leading the way with 12.
The Lady Bucs pushed their lead to as many as 17 in the second half (49-32), but Kennesaw exploded with a 24-11 run to cut the margin to four, 60-56, after Kelley sank a pair of free throws with 7:58 remaining.
Then, for the second straight game, ETSU found itself in another battle down the stretch.
In the final six minutes neither team held a lead larger than five, as
To go with Evans' and Belcher's stellar performances,
Smith finished with a team-high 18 points, while Kelley added 17 in the losing effort for Kennesaw.
The Lady Bucs will now enjoy a little break before returning to action. ETSU concludes its season-long five-game road trip on Sunday, Dec. 28, when the Lady Bucs travel to
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