ETSU records eighth straight home victory behind Randall's career-high 21-point performance
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 14, 2011) - There's a reason why they play two halves of basketball and the Lady Bucs proved why Monday night.
On night when the Lady Bucs looked dead in the water after the first 20 minutes of play, the Blue and Gold stepped up to give Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) a Senior Day to remember.
Trailing by 14 at the half and by seven with less than ten minutes remaining, the ETSU women's basketball team outscored Jacksonville 22-5 in the final nine minutes to capture a 75-65 come-from-behind victory over the Dolphins inside the MSHA Athletic Center.
Davis and Belcher did their fair share to earn an eighth straight home win, but it was 5-foot-8 guard Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.) who stepped up in her first collegiate start. Randall - who netted a career-high 21 points - only turned the ball over once and pulled down four rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Belcher recorded her tenth career double-double - finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high seven steals. After holding back the emotions during the pregame ceremony, Davis fought off some early jitters to register 12 points, four rebounds and a season-high eight assists, while playing all 40 minutes. Rounding on the scoring attack was junior local product Natalie Pickwell's (Kingsport, Tenn.) 13-point (4-of-7 from beyond the arc), six-rebound effort.
With the win, the Lady Bucs improved to 16-10, 13-4 in the A-Sun, and secured a program-best sixth consecutive winning season. Jacksonville dipped to 11-14, 6-10 with the loss.
"Those two seniors were determined and I think you can see Tish and T.D. weren't going to be denied on their night," said head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs have now won ten straight over Jacksonville. "Tish came up with some really big steals when we needed them and big rebounds as well. They were not going to have a memory of losing their last home game, so they were definitely determined to get the win.
"We always knew Shawn had this type of play in her and that she was going to be a special player for us. She just never had the opportunity of late because of what Destiny (Mitchell) has done thus far. Shawn got the starting role tonight and did a tremendous job. She stepped up and stepped up really big. Shawn and the rest of her teammates wanted to send out Tish and T.D. with a win and they were able to do that."
After keeping things close for the first eight minutes, forty-one seconds of the first half, the effects of not having Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) on the floor showed for the Blue and Gold. With the Lady Bucs leading by one at the 11:19 mark, the Dolphins scored 12 unanswered points over the next five-plus minutes to grab a 27-16 lead after Jane'l Osborne netted a jumper with less than seven minutes left before the break. From there, ETSU was able to pull within six, but the Dolphins closed out the final five minutes on a 15-7 run to take a 44-30 lead into the locker room.
For the half, the Lady Bucs shot 31 percent (10-32) and were only 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Dolphins shot 40 percent (16-40) and made four of their six three-point attempts. Jacksonville also dominated ETSU on the boards - out-rebounding the Lady Bucs by 12 - and the Dolphins scored 14 points off 14 offensive rebounds. The 41 first-half points scored by Jacksonville were also the most points given up by ETSU at home this season.
However, things slowly changed in the second half as the Lady Bucs flexed their muscles and protected the home floor.
Things looked grim early on as ETSU scored the first three points, but were still behind by 13 when both teams headed to the bench at the under 16 media timeout. Then, with Jacksonville leading 46-33 with 15:58 remaining in the game, the sleeping giant came alive as the Lady Bucs pulled to within three after recording a 10-0 run over the next three minutes.
The Dolphins responded with a three by Gigi Thomas on the next trip down, but ETSU wasn't going to let Jacksonville spoil the Lady Bucs' final home game.
Despite trailing by seven with nine minutes, fourteen seconds remaining, the Blue and Gold held their composure and dug deep for the final stretch of the contest. Slowly momentum shifted over the next several minutes - and finally after a Pickwell three - Davis gave ETSU its first lead since the early stages of the first half when her lay-up hit made it 62-61 at the 7:24 mark.
The Lady Bucs never surrendered the lead and continued to put their foot on the gas. Randall quickly stepped up in the clutch by scoring a lay-up and knocking down a three on the next few trips down - and Pickwell's third three of the game capped off an amazing 17-1 run - putting the Blue and Gold up 70-61 with 4:59 showing on the clock. From there, Jacksonville was able to cut the deficit to five, but the Lady Bucs held the Dolphins scoreless for the final three minutes, twenty-one seconds to earn the 10-point victory.
"Natalie came up big for us down the stretch by knocking down some threes, but I really felt the turning point was when Shawn made her three," added Kemp. "That seemed to really turn the table and turned everything around for us."
ETSU shot 50 percent in the second half (17-34) and finished 41 percent for the contest (27-66). The Lady Bucs went 5-of-8 from beyond the arc in the second half and outscored the Dolphins 34 to 28 in the paint. Jacksonville finished 23-of-68 for the game (34 percent), but out-rebounded the Blue and Gold by 11, 52 to 41. The Dolphins scored 17 points off 21 offensive rebounds and 16 points off 15 ETSU turnovers.
Jacksonville had three players score in double figures with Maggie Wilson leading the way at 14 points. Taneskei Richardson added a double-double in the losing effort (11 points, 10 rebounds).
The Lady Bucs close out the season with three straight road games, beginning Saturday evening at Lipscomb. Tip is set for 5 p.m. (Eastern) inside Allen Arena.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.