Freshman Bridges led ETSU with career-high 19 points; sophomore Christopher notched first-career double-double with 14 points and career-best 14 rebounds
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 23, 2014) – Behind strong performances from two of its underclassmen, the ETSU women’s basketball team snapped a four-game losing streak by downing the Kennesaw State Owls, 74-68, on Thursday inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center.
With the win, ETSU improves to 6-11 on the season and 2-4 in Atlantic Sun play, while Kennesaw State drops to 4-14 overall and 2-5 in league action.
Looking to relieve the sting of Sunday’s last-second loss to USC Upstate, the Buccaneers encountered an energized KSU squad early in the first half. The Owls scored the first five points of the contest and continued on to build up a 16-9 advantage six minutes into the game. From the 14:09 to 8:59 marks, the Blue and Gold then responded with a 14-2 run to take a five-point lead, 23-18. Over the duration of the half, the tightly-contested matchup featured three ties and three lead changes. Kennesaw State proceeded to end the period with a 7-0 surge over the final three minutes to leave the Bucs trailing, 37-30, at the break.
After KSU increased its advantage to eight points with 17:43 left to play in the second half, ETSU fought back with a 10-0 burst to take a one-point lead, 42-41, on a Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) three-pointer with 14:04 to go. The two teams then went on to be deadlocked in two instances and swapped the lead four times over the next five minutes. The Bucs were able to grasp the lead over the final nine minutes and increased their advantage to a game-high nine points on a Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.) lay-in with 2:29 left to play. Solid ball protection and clutch free throws down the stretch allowed the Blue and Gold to ultimately come away with a 74-68 victory.
ETSU underclassmen Bridges and Chandler Christopher (Greeneville, Tenn.) were crucial in allowing the Bucs to come away victorious on Thursday. In her second-career start, rookie Bridges led the Bucs with a career-high 19 points, including 5-of-5 from the free-throw line, in an also career-best 34 minutes. Sophomore Christopher was a great spark off of the bench for the Blue and Gold, registering her first-career double-double with 14 points and a game-high and career-best 14 rebounds. ETSU also had two additional scorers in double figures with Brianna McQueen (Jonesboro, Ga.) notching 15 and Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) recording 11.
Kennesaw State featured three double-digit scorers including a game-high 24 from Kristina Wells, to go along with a team-high 11 rebounds, and 11 from both Bria Young and Deandrea Sawyers.
The Blue and Gold shot a standard 43 percent from the floor and an improved 77 percent (24-of-31) from the free-throw line. ETSU also outgained the Owls 20-9 in bench points, with the bulk coming from Christopher, and 26-20 in points in the paint. Additionally, the Bucs converted eight offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points.
KSU connected from the field at a 40 percent clip and knocked down 79 percent (15-of-19) of its free throws. The Owls damaged ETSU on the boards with a 41-29 total rebound advantage and retrieved 14 offensive rebounds. With these second-chances, Kennesaw State only came away with 13 points and its 19 turnovers ended up proving to be problematic. KSU did post assists on 12 of its 23 made field goals.
The Bucs will continue conference play at home on Saturday, Jan. 25, when they welcome Mercer to the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center at 1:30 p.m. in the first game of a women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader.
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