Late 12-2 run by the Bears stymies the Buccaneers
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 25, 2014) – Leading by five points with 3:30 left to play, the ETSU women’s basketball team was unable to hold off the Mercer Bears down the stretch as MU went on a 12-2 run to down the Buccaneers, 57-52, Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center.
With the loss, ETSU drops to 6-12 on the season and 2-5 in Atlantic Sun play, while Mercer improves to 10-9 overall and 3-5 in league action.
Looking to put together consecutive wins for the second time this season, the Bucs engaged in a tightly-contested contest early against Mercer. The opening period consisted of four ties and 10 lead changes, with both teams finding difficulty in pulling away from the other. For ETSU, its cold shooting and propensity to turn the ball over allowed the Bears to keep pace. To supplement for these struggles, the Blue and Gold got after it on the glass, outrebounding MU, 25-14, in the first half and securing nine offensive rebounds which resulted in eight second-chance points. With 1:34 to go in the half, a jumper by Mercer’s Kendra Grant pulled the Bears ahead and left the Bucs trailing, 25-24, going into the break.
After struggling from behind the arc in the first half, ETSU found its stroke early in the second period with three made three-pointers in the first four minutes including two by freshman Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.). This increased offensive output allowed the Blue and Gold to pull ahead by as many as six points, 36-30, with 15:21 left to play. The Bears then responded with a 7-0 run to take a one-point advantage with 13:21 remaining. ETSU proceeded to answer with a burst of its own to pull back ahead, 46-41, with 7:57 to go. Over the next few minutes, ETSU was able to hold onto a slim lead before MU manufactured a surge to pull even, 50-50, with 2:31 left to play. With the game deadlocked, the Bucs could get nothing going on the offensive end while the Bears streaked ahead to score seven of the final nine points of the ballgame to down the Blue and Gold, 57-52.
The Bears featured two double-digit scorers including a game-high 16 points, to go along with eight rebounds, from Kendra Grant and 12 points from Kate Alemann. The Bucs were led by 13 points from Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) and got a repeat impressive performance from rookie Bridges who posted 12 points and a career-high six rebounds in her third career start. Chandler Christopher (Greeneville, Tenn.) pitched in 10 points off of the bench for the Blue and Gold and also grabbed five offensive rebounds, while Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.) added seven points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Mercer shot 37 percent (23-of-62) from the field and knocked down 9-of-14 (64 percent) from the free-throw line. The Bears’ large front-line gave the Bucs problems with 24 points in the paint and helped them battle back to pull closer in the total rebound column (45-41) after being dominated in the first half, 25-14. MU also converted ETSU’s 13 turnovers into 10 points off of these takeaways and assisted on 12 of its 23 made field goals.
ETSU struggled shooting the ball, with its lowest field goal percentage of the year of 31 percent. The Bucs were also inefficient from three-point land with 7-of-20 (35 percent) makes and from the charity stripe with 9-of-16 (56 percent) conversions. The Blue and Gold did retrieve 15 offensive rebounds but only turned them into 10 second-chance points. Off of the bench, the Bucs got 12 points including 10 from Christopher. ETSU did manage to assist on 10 of its 18 made field goals.
The Bucs will continue conference play on the road when they travel to Jacksonville, Fla. to take on the Jacksonville Dolphins on Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. inside Veterans Memorial Arena.
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