JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 26, 2010) - The ETSU women's basketball team knows only one thing stands in front of them and winning the Atlantic Sun regular season title outright on Saturday afternoon - the Jacksonville Dolphins.
When the Lady Bucs tip off at noon tomorrow inside Veterans Memorial Arena, an ETSU victory over its conference rival will guarantee the Blue and Gold an outright crown. The Lady Bucs clinched at least a share of the A-Sun regular season title on Thursday after defeating UNF by 10 (68-58) and USC Upstate pulling off an upset over FGCU in Spartanburg - marking the second time in the last three seasons ETSU has won the regular season championship.
Picking up their sixth straight win and improving to 19-8, 17-2 wasn't an easy task for the Lady Bucs on Thursday. ETSU was trailing UNF by seven with less than ten minutes to play; however, the Lady Bucs dug deep and outscored the Ospreys 26-9 to end the game and come away with the 68-58 win inside UNF Arena.
Seniors TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) and Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) each scored 15 points apiece; while Evans also grabbed eight boards and forced four steals. Wiles, who played the entire 40 minutes, finished with seven rebounds and two assists.
"One of our goals entering the season was to win the regular season title," added coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs set a school record with their 17th conference victory on Thursday night. "We have clinched at least a share of it all ready, but now we have the chance to win it outright on Saturday. Tomorrow we just have to do a good job keeping our composure and getting out to a solid start. We were fortunate our seniors stepped up at UNF to lead us to victory, but we need a total team effort against Jacksonville tomorrow."
The Dolphins are coming off a 63-57 victory over Campbell on Thursday night and Jacksonville is fighting for one of the top four spots in the conference tournament. Gigi Thomas led JU with 14 points against the Lady Camels; while Desarae Johnson added 10 points and seven rebounds. The Dolphins were selected fourth in both preseason polls, and they are currently sitting seventh in the standings at 9-18, 8-11. As a team, Jacksonville is averaging 59.3 points per game and giving up 63.1.
ETSU leads the all-time series 10-1, and have won the last six meetings - including the last two A-Sun title games. Earlier this year, ETSU knocked off the Dolphins 77-72 back on Dec. 21 in Johnson City. The Lady Bucs used strong free throw shooting to pull out the win, as Evans and Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) combined to go 18-for-18 at the free throw line; while ETSU finished a season-best 27-for-30. Neither teamed controlled the ball well, as they combined to turn the ball over 54 times; however, ETSU did a better job turning the miscues into points. The Lady Bucs scored 21 points off the turnovers while JU had 17. ETSU also dominated in the paint - outscoring the Dolphins 34-16. Evans (23 points) and Wiles (21 points) combined to score 44 of the 77 points; while Evans pulled down 11 boards and went 10-of-10 at the free throw line. JU's lone win in the series came during the 2006-07 season when the Dolphins sneaked by the Lady Bucs, 83-79 in Swisher Gym.
Fans unable to make the trip to Jacksonville can catch all the action live on ASun.TV.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.