MACON, Ga. (Feb. 28, 2012) – After meeting up just five days ago, the ETSU women's basketball team will face Florida Gulf Coast yet again when the No. 8 Lady Bucs and No. 1 Eagles kick off the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Women's Basketball Championship on Wednesday afternoon. Tip is set for noon inside Mercer's University Center.
Despite getting a dominate effort from sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.), the Lady Bucs couldn't spoil FGCU's perfect season last Saturday in Johnson City. Mitchell scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds, but the Eagles hung on for the 71-64 win over ETSU.
Following the setback to FGCU and USC Upstate's 81-68 win over Stetson later Saturday evening, the Lady Bucs dropped to the No. 8 seed.
Some may say it's unfortunate the Lady Bucs (8-21) are the No. 8 seed; however, the Blue and Gold had success at this spot the last time they entered a conference tournament as an eighth seed.
In 2005, head coach Karen Kemp's club knocked off top-seeded Chattanooga, 55-50, in the SoCon quarterfinals. In addition, ETSU entered the 1997 SoCon Tournament as the No. 8 seed, and Kemp's team handed No. 1 Furman a 64-62 loss.
With that said, the Lady Bucs are eyeing the same result as they look to join Stetson to be the only No. 8 seeds to defeat a No. 1 in A-Sun Tournament history. The Hatters beat Belmont, 64-61, in 2004.
Since joining the A-Sun in 2005-06, the Lady Bucs are 8-3 all-time in games played inside Mercer’s University Center, including claiming one of their three A-Sun Championship titles in March of 2010.
Individually, Mitchell and red-shirt senior guard Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) have put up impressive numbers inside the UC. Mitchell saves some of her best games for the trip back to her home state. In two career games in Macon (missed the 2011 A-Sun Tournament with a knee injury), the Bluffton, Ga. native is averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists, while shooting 58.3 percent (21-36) inside the UC. This season, Mitchell went off for a career-high 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting – including a stretch of netting nine consecutive field goals in a 19-plus minute stretch in the second half against Mercer back on Feb. 2. Last season, Mitchell finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists in the win over the Lady Bears.
Meanwhile, the last time Gordon participated in an A-Sun Tournament, she was taking home All-Tournament Team honors after averaging 14.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 31.3 minutes of play as the Lady Bucs cut down the nets for a third straight year in 2010. Like Mitchell, Gordon has also put up some strong numbers in five career games inside Mercer’s University Center, as she’s averaging 13 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.
Should ETSU want to survive and advance to the conference semifinals for a sixth straight year, the Lady Bucs will have do something no A-Sun team was able to do in the regular season – hand FGCU a loss.
The Eagles finished their perfect 18-0 season on Saturday en route to going 26-2 overall. FGCU – who enters the tournament with 18 straight wins – hasn't lost since Dec. 28.
FGCU is led by First Team All-Atlantic Sun selection Sarah Hansen and Second Team All-Conference pick Kelsey Jacobson. Hansen is coming off a 20-point, 12-rebound effort against the Lady Bucs on Saturday and is averaging 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while Jacobson is posting 10.3 points per contest and has netted 75 of the Eagles’ 304 threes made this year.
As a team, FGCU leads the country with 10.9 made threes per game, while the Eagles are fourth overall in turnover margin at 7.07.
The Eagles lead the all-time series, 7-2, and have won the last five against ETSU including the seven-point victory on Saturday. The last time the Lady Bucs defeated FGCU was an 88-83 win back on Jan. 16, 2010. Mitchell is averaging 16 points and 13.3 rebounds, while shooting 62 percent (21-34) in three career games versus FGCU, while Gordon has averaged 12 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in four career matchups with the Eagles.
The winner of Wednesday's game will face the winner of No. 4 UNF/No. 5 Kennesaw State on Friday at noon.
Fans unable to make the trip to Macon can listen to all the action on WXSM-AM 640 The Extreme Sports Monster as "Voice of the Lady Bucs" John Stevens will carry the play-by-play. Meanwhile, Wednesday's game will also be broadcast on ESPN3 with Paul Crane in charge of play-by-play and Dee Romine handling the color. Live stats will also be available via MercerBears.com.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit ETSUBucs.com.