JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 24, 2011) - Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) recorded her seventh double-double of the season (16 points/10 rebounds) and senior captain Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) added 14 points as the Lady Bucs were able to grind out a 58-49 victory over Belmont Monday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
Along with Davis' 14 points, the Murfreesboro, Tenn. native tied a career high with eight rebounds and dished out two assists, while only turning the ball over once. Junior Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) came off the bench to pitch in seven points and seven rebounds, and senior Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) fell short of reaching the 1,000-point club. Belcher entered the game with 989 career points and finished with five points and six rebounds in 25 minutes - giving Davis an opportunity to surpass her teammate. Davis now has 985 career points.
The Lady Bucs have now won six of their last eight games and improved to 10-9, 7-3 in A-Sun play. Belmont dropped to 7-12, 4-6.
Head coach Karen Kemp was unaware of Belcher and Davis nearing the 1,000-point club in the postgame press conference and she hopes her players aren't eyeing it as well.
"As players, I hope they don't remember how many points they have scored, because this game is all about team and that's what we focus on," added Kemp, who has now won the last eight meetings over Belmont. "We always say it doesn't matter if you score 20 points or two points, but as long as the team is being successful that is most important statistic. I really didn't know Latisha was that close to reaching 1,000 (points) and hopefully she didn't realize it either. It's a great milestone, but that's not what we are all about. We are about team and we are focused on winning championships."
As far as the game went, Kemp was disappointed with how many open looks her team allowed the Bruins to get, but in the end, the Lady Bucs protected their home floor.
"I thought in the first half we definitely gave Belmont too many open looks - just like we did last game with Lipscomb," said Kemp. "Fortunately, for us, they weren't going in the hole, but we have to do a better job of finding the open shooters and contesting their shots. If they make shots that are contested - that's one thing - but if they are getting wide open looks that's an area we really need to focus on."
Just like they did on Saturday, the Lady Bucs opened strong as ETSU connected on four of their first six attempts and jumped out to a 10-2 lead; forcing Belmont to burn a 30-second timeout after Davis found Mitchell open on a fast-break lay-up at the 16:50 mark. Unfortunately, the Blue and Gold were unable to extend their lead despite Belmont missing on 12 of its first 15 shots, as Whitney Seals' three from the corner cut the Bruin deficit to five with 11:18 showing on the clock.
Then, with ETSU leading 16-7, both teams were only able to record eight made field goals in the final seven and a half minutes; however, the Lady Bucs took advantage of 11 trips to the free throw line to take a 29-20 lead into the locker room.
After only going 8-for-24 from the field in the first half, the Lady Bucs were 10-of-11 at the charity stripe; while Belmont went 8-for-33 from the floor and 1-of-2 at the free throw line. The Bruins out-rebounded ETSU by three, 23-20, and outscored the Lady Bucs 7-0 in second-chance points. Meanwhile, ETSU managed to hold the upper hand in points off turnovers (6-1) thanks to forcing Belmont into 10 miscues.
ETSU was able to push its nine-point halftime lead to 12 in the opening three minutes of the second half, but the Bruins pulled to within seven, 38-31, after Molly Ernst hit a three from the right corner with 14:50 remaining in the contest. Davis answered with a three at the top of the arc on the next possession and Mitchell laid one in a few seconds later - putting ETSU back up 12 (43-31) at the 13:24 mark.
The Bruins were able to get to within single digits when back-to-back jumpers by Tereva Moore made it 46-37 with a little over ten minutes left, but Belmont wouldn't get any closer until the final buzzer sounded. Washington gave the Lady Bucs their largest lead, 56-41, when she netted a baseline jumper with 3:28 to play and ETSU hung over for the nine-point win.
For the game, the Lady Bucs shot 34.5 percent (19-55) and ETSU only converted five of its 16 three-point attempts (31 percent). Belmont wasn't any better as the Bruins shot 27.1 percent (19-70) - marking the lowest shooting percentage by an opponent all season for the Lady Bucs. After being out-rebounded by three at the half, ETSU won the battle of the boards in the second half and finished plus-five for the game, 50 to 45.
Belmont was led by Ernst's 12-point effort, while Moore came off the bench to add 10.
The 49 points allowed by the Blue and Gold marked the lowest in the Belmont series as well as the fewest this year by an ETSU opponent. Also, it was the first time the Lady Bucs allowed less than 50 points since defeating North Florida 56-42 back on Jan. 5, 2009.
ETSU has little time to prepare for its next opponent as the Lady Bucs host USC Upstate on Wednesday night. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.