MACON, Ga. (Jan. 3, 2011) - Great things came from Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) and Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) Monday evening as the talented trio generated 76 percent of the Lady Buccaneer offense en route to guiding ETSU past Mercer, 83-68, inside the University Center.
Davis led the way for the Blue and Gold as she netted a team-high 23 points, while Mitchell enjoyed making a visit back to her home state as she posted her second straight double-double (fourth of her career) after tallying 22 points and 12 rebounds. Rounding out the scoring attack was Pickwell's 18-point, six-rebound effort.
With the win, ETSU improved to 5-7, but more importantly jumped to 2-1 in A-Sun play. Meanwhile, Mercer dipped to 1-11, 1-2.
"Getting this win is a great way to start off the New Year," commented head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs out-rebounded Mercer 57 to 25. "In the end, life on the road isn't easy, so it's a good feeling anytime you can get a conference victory on the road. I was really pleased with the way we hit the boards tonight - especially with Tish and Destiny - they did a really nice job for us."
The Lady Bucs were battling with a post New Year's hangover to start the game as ETSU missed on nine of its first ten shot attempts in the opening six minutes, three seconds and Mercer led, 6-3. From there, the Bears pushed their lead to five, but seven unanswered ETSU points gave the Lady Bucs a 12-10 advantage after Davis knocked down a pair of free throws at the 12:25 mark. Following Davis' two free throws, the Lady Bucs managed to push their lead to four, 21-17, when Mitchell scored on a jumper with 8:36 remaining before the half. However, the Bears continued to fight back and forced three ties over the next three-plus minutes, but with the score knotted at 26 ETSU looked to take control before the break. The Lady Bucs mounted a 10-1 run to grab a 36-27 lead, but the Bears never backed down as they cut the deficit to five at the half.
After a sluggish start, the Lady Bucs finally found their shot as they posted a 47.1 shooting percentage (16-34) in the opening 20 minutes, while Mercer shot 41.2 percent (14-34). ETSU dominated the Bears on the glass, out-rebounding Mercer 26 to 14, but 15 Lady Buccaneer turnovers turned into 13 points for the host team on the offensive side.
Mercer carried the momentum with them into the second half as they opened up on an 11-4 run and led 44-42 after Briana Williams nailed a three with only four minutes coming off the clock. The Lady Bucs finally stopped the bleeding - courtesy of the three-pointer - as ETSU swished four threes over a three-plus minute span, giving the Blue and Gold a 60-53 cushion after Davis connected on a long-range bomb with 11:54 showing on the clock. ETSU eventually saw its lead grow to double figures (67-56) when Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) put in a pair of free throws with less than ten minutes to play, but back-to-back Mercer threes made it a five-point game with 8:45 left in the contest.
Once again, the Lady Bucs used the three-point shot to their advantage as Davis knocked one down from NBA range and Pickwell followed with the dagger - putting ETSU ahead 75-64 with less than five minutes to play.
"Fortunately, T.D. and Natalie stepped up for us as far as hitting those big threes," added Kemp. "T.D hit a couple and same with Natalie, which was the reason why we were able to pull away."
For the game, ETSU shot 43.1 percent (31-72) and knocked down nine of its 21 three-point attempts. Mercer finished at 46.8 percent shooting (29-62), while hitting on five of its 15 three-pointers. Twenty-six of the Lady Bucs' rebounds came on the offensive end, resulting in 24 second-chance points.
Along with the strong scoring attack from Davis, Mitchell and Pickwell, Belcher also added seven points and 11 rebounds in the 15-point win.
Mercer was led by Williams' game-high 24 points.
The Lady Bucs cap off their five-game road swing Wednesday night at Kennesaw State. Tip is set for 5 p.m. inside the KSU Convocation Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.