NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 28, 2009) - Senior TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) poured in a game high 30 points, but it was not enough to hold off 16th ranked Vanderbilt, as the Commodores defeated the Lady Bucs 96-83 on Monday night inside Memorial Gymnasium.
ETSU (4-5) held its own against the reigning SEC Tournament champions, but strong second-half shooting by the Commodores proved to be too much for the Lady Bucs. With the win, Vanderbilt improved to 11-1 on the year.
Wiles, who finished two points shy of setting a new career high, shot 11-of-19 from the floor and also pulled down nine rebounds, dished out three assists, and forced three steals. Joining Wiles with her seventh straight double-double was fellow senior Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.). Evans netted 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Lady Bucs came off the bus and ready to shoot the long range jumper in the opening minutes of the first half. ETSU received a pair of threes from Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Wiles, along with a lay-in from Tosha Austin (Chattanooga, Tenn.) to take an early 14-9 lead, forcing Vanderbilt to burn a 30-second timeout following the Lady Bucs' fourth 3-pointer at the 16:05 mark. Wiles wasn't finished with her hot-hand as her 16th point put ETSU ahead, 24-19, but over the next 5 minutes, 15 seconds Vanderbilt used a 12-4 run to regain control at 31-28 with 3:43 remaining before the break. From there, ETSU pulled to within one (34-33), but the Commodores held a 42-37 lead at the half.
Six of ETSU's 12 first-half field goals came from beyond the arc, as the Lady Bucs shot 37.5 percent (32 attempts), compared to Vanderbilt going 15-of-32 (46.9 percent) from the field. The Lady Bucs held a 24-14 advantage in rebounds, and ETSU turned 11 offensive rebounds into 12 second-chance points. Wiles led all scorers at the break with 19 points, while Tiffany Clarke paced Vanderbilt with 12.
Vanderbilt increased its lead to 47-39 to open the first 2 minutes, 11 seconds of the second half, but a jumper by Wiles and 3-pointer from Evans cut the Lady Buccaneer deficit to five, 47-42, with 17:21 left in the contest.
However, that's as close as ETSU would get.
With the Lady Bucs trailing by only five, Vanderbilt posted a 13-4 run - pushing its lead into double figures 60-46 at the 12:02 mark. The Commodores would eventually see their lead expand to 17, 71-54, but ETSU didn't back away.
From the 9 minute mark to 6:48 remaining in the contest, the Lady Bucs gained some momentum and made it a seven-point contest, 73-66. Sophomore Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) picked off a pass and laid one in to finish off the 12-2 spurt, but Vanderbilt wouldn't let ETSU inch any closer.
For the game, ETSU shot 41.8 percent (28-67) and turned the ball over 26 times. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, shot 54.5 percent from the floor (36-66), and 46 of its 96 points came in the paint. The Lady Bucs did out-rebound Vanderbilt, 42-37, and went 18-of-23 at the free throw line.
The Commodores were led by freshman post Tiffany Clarke's 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Meredith Marsh added 18 points, five assists and three steals.
The Lady Bucs return to action on Thursday afternoon when ETSU travels to Chapel Hill and takes on No. 7 North Carolina. Tip is set for 2 p.m. inside the Dean Smith Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.