MACON, Ga. (Jan. 9, 2010) - Senior Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) and junior point guard Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) weren't going to let their Lady Buccaneer teammates down on Saturday afternoon inside Mercer's University Center.
Evans and Davis came through with clutch shots in the second half and carried the Lady Bucs to an 81-60 victory over Mercer in Atlantic Sun Conference action.
Evans finished with her ninth double-double of the year, scoring a game-high 22 points and pulling down a career-best 20 rebounds. Evans' sensational effort was the best by any A-Sun competitor this season, as she was the first player in the league to post a 20-20 performance. In addition, Davis came off the bench - and despite nursing a sore back - the Murfreesboro, Tenn. native drained five of her six 3-point attempts en route to posting a career-high 19 points in 17 minutes of work.
The win capped off a season-long five-game road swing for the Lady Bucs, who improved to 6-7, 4-1 in A-Sun play. Mercer dropped to 7-8, 4-2 with the loss.
"We made some mistakes that let Mercer keep it close, but I think the 30-second timeout down the stretch is what we needed to regain our fire and intensity," said head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs used a 22-6 run to close out the final 6 minutes, 35 minutes en route to capturing their second straight win. Tara didn't play a whole lot, but she made the most of those minutes when she was in there. She (Tara) is the one who gave us that big spark by knocking down some big three's, which let us extend our lead. Mercer is a good team, but I think the players had some revenge on their minds after they kept us from clinching a share of the regular season title last season. We finished the road swing out on a high note, so hopefully now we can carry this momentum home with us as we prepare for Stetson on Thursday."
The Lady Bucs opened the game with the hot hand from beyond the arc, as Evans and Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) connected on a pair of threes, before two more from Wiles gave the Lady Bucs a 12-5 lead at the 16:23 mark. From there, both teams buckled down on defense and Mercer cut the gap to two, 16-14, but ETSU responded with six unanswered points to regain a 22-14 lead following a pair of free throws from Iesha Robinson (Martinsburg, W. Va.) with 7 minutes, 33 seconds left before the break.
After a slow, defensive battle for the first 13 minutes the speed picked up and it favored ETSU. The Lady Bucs pushed their lead into double figures and led 30-19 after Robinson sank another free throw with 5:25 to play before intermission. ETSU would then carry a nine-point lead into the half, 37-28, as Mercer's Courtney Ford hit a jumper with three ticks remaining.
For the half, ETSU did a great job securing the basketball, as the Lady Bucs only turned the ball over a season-low four times in the opening 20 minutes. Unfortunately, missed lay-ups were ETSU's Achilles, with the Lady Bucs not coming through on 11 of them; while shooting 31.4 percent (11-35). Mercer was slightly better from the field - going 12-of-32 (37.5 percent) - but the Lady Bucs did a better job attacking and getting to the charity stripe. The Lady Bucs went to the line 12 more times than the Bears, and ended up 10-for-14 in the opening half. Mercer was 1-of-2.
Ford carried the momentum over to the second half as her three to begin the final 20 minutes cut the deficit to six, 37-31, but an Evans lay-up and three-pointer quickly pushed the Lady Buccaneer advantage back to 11, 42-31, with 18:52 left to play.
Mercer responded with a 6-0 run, making it a 42-37 contest; however, the Lady Bucs controlled the next 4 minutes, 20 seconds to regain an 11-point advantage, 50-39, following a running floater by Gordon with 11:55 showing on the clock.
Eventually ETSU would take a 13-point lead when Evans' third 3-pointer put the Lady Bucs ahead, 53-40, but once again Mercer challenged the Blue and Gold. The Bears pulled to within 53-45 - but a deep trey by Davis with less than 10 minutes remaining stopped the momentum - and gave the Lady Bucs 56-45 advantage.
Again Mercer would make one final charge at the Lady Bucs - pulling to within five, 59-54, but more three-pointers from Davis and Evans fueled the 22-6 run to capture the 21-point victory.
Once again the 3-point shot was kind to the Lady Bucs on Saturday, as ETSU knocked down a season-high 12 treys. The Lady Bucs finished 25-of-77 for the game (32.5 percent) and drained 50-percent from beyond the arc. In addition, the Lady Bucs did a solid job getting to the free throw line, with ETSU making eight more trips than the Bears. ETSU shot 82.6 percent (19-23) at the charity stripe, compared to Mercer going 8-for-15 (53.3 percent). The Lady Bucs also cut down on their mistakes - turning the ball over a season-low 12 times.
Gordon continued her strong play on Saturday. The Wichita, Kan. native finished with 14 points (5-of-5 at the free throw line), three assists and four steals in 31 minutes of work.
Mercer was led by Ford's 20 points; however, the Lady Bucs shut the senior guard down in the second half, as she only scored six points on 2-of-6 shooting.
The Lady Bucs finally return home for the first time in 2010 when ETSU hosts Stetson on Thursday evening. Tip is set for 4:45 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.