ETSU clinches berth in Atlantic Sun Championship
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2013) – Two gigantic three-pointers from Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) and clutch free throws down the stretch helped ward off a North Florida comeback as ETSU held on to defeat the Ospreys, 65-60, on Monday evening inside UNF Arena.
With the win, ETSU improves to 8-16 overall and 6-11 in Atlantic Sun play, while North Florida drops to 10-17 overall and 6-10 in league action.
“We played well on the offensive and defensive ends in the first half, but the second half was a different story,” said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. “We struggled to score in the second half and North Florida went on a run, but we didn’t let it rattle us. I’m extremely proud of how hard our team played and we fought hard until the end which allowed us to get the win.”
The opening of the first half consisted of back and forth action, with each team answering the other on the offensive end. Increased energy from the Lady Bucs eventually propelled them on a 13-0 run from the 16:45 to 10:30 marks, turning a once 7-7 tie into a 20-7 ETSU advantage. The Blue and Gold featured balanced scoring throughout the half, including five players with five or more points. ETSU was also able to take advantage of UNF’s poor shooting, especially from three-point range where the Ospreys lead the Atlantic Sun in three-point shooting percentage at 35 percent in league play. The Lady Bucs’ close-out defense only allowed the Ospreys two made trifectas out of 14 attempts as ETSU headed into the break with a 33-22 advantage.
ETSU continued the momentum into the second half as it increased its lead to as many as 14 points at the 13:38 mark. North Florida responded with a 7-0 streak to cut the Lady Bucs’ lead to seven points with 10:43 remaining. Inconsistent offense reared its ugly head again for the Blue and Gold throughout the second period and was aided by relatively poor shot selection. The Ospreys capitalized on these struggles by methodically chipping away at their deficit. With ETSU’s lead dwindling, Cara Bowling nailed two huge triples to counter UNF. This development was compounded by critical North Florida turnovers as it tried to even up the score. Down the stretch, multiple Lady Bucs knocked down clutch free throws to stave off the Ospreys’ comeback en route to a 65-60 ETSU victory.
A career-high and game-high 21 points, including five makes from three-point range, from Cara Bowling paced the Lady Bucs, as well as 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench from Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.). Tiana Burley (Camilla, Ga.) chipped in 10 points and five rebounds as well. Meanwhile, UNF got a team-high 20 points, as well as 10 rebounds, from Destinee Smith. The Ospreys added two additional double-figure scorers in Raneisha Lamar and Jadhken Kerr who recorded 12 points and 10 points, respectively.
The Lady Bucs shot a respectable 39 percent from the floor, but again struggled from downtown with only 6 makes in 17 attempts. ETSU also struggled to get to the charity stripe again, knocking down only seven in 11 tries. Uncharacteristically, the Blue and Gold were edged in the paint, 20-18, but got huge contributions from its bench with 26 points and got out on the break for 13 points. The Lady Bucs also turned 20 offensive rebounds into 24 second chance points.
Meanwhile, UNF pulled off a rarity by outrebounding the Lady Bucs, this time by a margin of 51-46. This effort on the glass is the first time ETSU has been outrebounded since the previous meeting between the two teams on Jan. 26 in Johnson City where the Ospreys outrebounded the Lady Bucs, 44-43. North Florida also held a slight edge in points off turnovers, 16-15, with each team turning the ball over an identical 17 times.
The Lady Bucs return to action on Senior Day when they welcome the USC Upstate Spartans to the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center on Saturday, March 2, at 1:30 p.m. in ETSU’s final regular season contest of the 2012-13 campaign. Click here for tickets.
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