JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 2, 2011) – After opening preseason practice a month ago, the ETSU women’s basketball team will finally break camp as the Lady Bucs host Carson-Newman in their exhibition opener on Thursday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
The Lady Bucs, who were picked second in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason media poll and third by the league coaches, return eight letterwinners from last year’s team that finished 19-12, 15-5 in A-Sun play. Included in those returnees are a pair of Lady Bucs who are coming back from season-ending injuries. Red-shirt senior guard Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) missed the entire 2010-11 campaign with a knee injury, while sophomore guard/forward Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) also injured her knee and was forced to miss the final six games of the season. The last time Gordon was on the hardwood she was lighting up fifth-ranked Xavier for a career-high 30 points in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, Mitchell was named Second Team All-Atlantic Sun and All-Freshmen Team after averaging 14.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in her rookie season.
Along with the return of Gordon and Mitchell, Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) will look to guide the Blue and Gold back into the NCAA Tournament after a one-year hiatus. ETSU suffered a disappointing 61-59 loss to Jacksonville in the conference semifinals, snapping the Lady Bucs’ four-year postseason run. Pickwell enjoyed a breakout season in 2010-11 after knocking down 70 of ETSU’s 151 three-pointers made en route to averaging 11.7 points per game. The Kingsport, Tenn. native ranked second in the A-Sun in 3-point field goal percentage (39.8) and fifth in 3-point field goals made (2.3), while also registering five 20-plus point scoring efforts. Washington enters her final season and has played in all 94 games (64 starts) since arriving on campus, and the Manassas, Va. native is also 168 points shy of becoming the 20th Lady Buccaneer to enter the 1,000 point club.
Joining the eight letterwinners in 2011-12 are six newcomers for head coach Karen Kemp’s club. Five of the six can see action this season; however, sophomore post Serena Clark (Tucker, Ga.) has to sit out this season due to NCAA Division I transfer rules. In addition to Clark, Brianna Bogard (Georgetown, Texas), Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.), Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.), Chelsea Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.), and Amy Duke (Hendersonville, Tenn.) will all don the Blue and Gold for the first time this year.
Unlike the Lady Bucs, Carson-Newman already has a game under its belt after coming off a 105-40 setback at Tennessee on Tuesday night in Knoxville. The Eagles had two players score in double figures, as Shannon Depew led the way with 11 points and Zoriah Williams added 10. Depew and Williams are two of the three returning scorers from a year ago, while Depew was named the South Atlantic Conference Freshman of the Year after averaging 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in her rookie season.
Carson-Newman finished the 2010-11 season with a 14-16 mark and the Eagles have a new look under first-year head coach and former Lady Buccaneer assistant (2001-04), Mike Mincey. Following their game on Thursday night, Mincey and the Eagles will travel to Chapel Hill for a third exhibition game versus North Carolina.
Fans unable to make the trip to Johnson City can listen to all the action as “Voice of the Lady Bucs” John Stevens will carry the play-by-play on WXSM-AM 640 The Sports Monster. A live webstream will also be available through A-Sun.TV, while live stats will be offered via Gametracker.
To purchase season tickets for the upcoming basketball season, contact the ETSU ticket office at 423-439-ETSU (3878).
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.