Bucs aim to begin second half of conference play with a victory
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 5, 2014) – After snapping a two-game skid with a 72-57 victory over the North Florida Ospreys on Saturday, Feb. 1, the ETSU women’s basketball team will look to continue the momentum when it welcomes the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center.
Competing undermanned for the second-straight game, the ETSU women’s basketball team outmatched the North Florida Ospreys behind a dominant second half as the Bucs soared past the Ospreys, 72-57, inside UNF Arena. The Bucs fell behind by as many as nine points early in the first half, but fought back to close the deficit to 36-32 at halftime.
To start the second period, the Blue and Gold put the pedal to the metal and never looked back. ETSU scored the first eight points of the half, to take the lead, and manufactured an 18-2 run to take control of the contest. Increasing their lead to as many as 17 points with two minutes to play, the Bucs cruised to a 72-57 victory. Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.) notched her second-consecutive double, and eighth of the season, with 20 points and eleven rebounds. Forced into increased minutes due to ETSU’s current lack of depth, freshman Jasmine Hotchkins (Phoenix, Ariz.) played a career-high 28 minutes, which featured a career-best 12 points including a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc.
ETSU (7-13, 3-6) and Florida Gulf Coast (14-7, 8-1) will square off Thursday in the 14th all-time meeting between the two schools; a series that FGCU leads, 11-2. The Bucs have fallen short in nine-straight meetings against the Eagles with the most recent matchup being a 73-58 loss earlier this season, on Jan. 9, inside Alico Arena.
WE ARE “ETSU”
The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics would like to ask both the print and broadcast media to honor our request to be called “ETSU” throughout the 2012-13 season ... East Tennessee State in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics, please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.
ETSU ENTERS INTO EZELL ERA
The ETSU Buccaneers enter the 2013-14 season under the guidance of first-year head coach. Brittney Ezell. A two-sport star in basketball and softball at the University of Alabama, Ezell comes to ETSU after spending three seasons as head coach at Belmont University where she compiled a 41-52 overall record. The Franklin, Tenn. native takes the reigns of a veteran-heavy team that returns nine letterwinners from an 8-18 overall 2012-13 campaign. Among the nine returnees are six players who started 10 or more games last season. Highlighted among the returnees is last year’s team-leading scorer and rebounder Destiny Mitchell who led the way with 11.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Supporting Mitchell are juniors Serena Clark and Cara Bowling who each averaged 9.5 points per game last season.
MITCHELL TO MISS REMAINDER OF SEASON
As a result of a leg injury suffered in the first regular season game of the season at Memphis on Nov. 8, senior forward Destiny Mitchell will miss the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign. Mitchell will undergo surgery and continue injury rehabilitation while the ETSU compliance department petitions for a medical redshirt to have the forward cleared to participate in 2014-15.
LAST TIME VS. FLORIDA GULF COAST
In facing the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on Thursday, Jan. 9, in Fort Myers, Fla., the Bucs came out energized and really challenged FGCU early. The Blue and Gold held a 13-10 advantage with 13:22 left in the first half before the Eagles responded with a 22-11 run over the next 10 minutes to pull ahead by 10 points, 34-34, with 2:41 to go in the period. Quickly, ETSU scored five points to close out the half to get within five points, 34-29, before the break. To open the second half, FGCU scored the first six points and began to take control of the game. The Eagles increased their lead to as many as 25 points in the period but the Bucs refused to quit and went on an 8-2 run to close the contest, resulting in a 73-58 defeat.
CLARK DOUBLES UP
Junior forward Serena Clark has started 2013-14 off strong, scoring in double-figures in 12 of the 20 games this season. After falling just one rebound short of a double-double in the season opener at Memphis (11/8), the native Georgian reeled off four-consecutive double-doubles for ETSU in games from Nov. 12 - 29 including a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds in a 82-65 win against Alabama A&M (11/29). The junior’s most recent double-double came in a 72-57 win at North Florida where Clark posted game-highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds to notch her second-consecutive double-double. Clark has now exceeded her double-double total from last season just 20 games into the 2013-14 campaign with eight this season and is poised for more throughout the year. The forward’s 11.0 points per game currently ranks among the top-20 in the A-Sun, while her 10.6 boards per game is second in the league.
Junior guard Cara Bowling is currently the leading scorer on the team with 12.7 points per game during the 2013-14 season. Presently, this point total per game is 13th in the A-Sun while her 2.0 three-point field goal makes per game is third in the league. The Elizabethton native posted a career-high 22 points vs. Saint Francis (Pa.) (11/24) including four makes from behind the arc. The guard has missed five games this season, from Jan. 19 – Feb.1, due to a hip injury.
FROM WALK-ON TO STARTER
Sophomore guard Chandler Christopher has proved to be a valuable piece for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. After spending the entirety of the 2012-13 campaign as a seldom-used freshman walk-on, first-year head coach Brittney Ezell liked what she saw from Christopher and decided to elevate the Greeneville native from walk-on to scholarship status prior to this season. Christopher has since recorded her first-career starts in 18 of the 20 games this season and has been a vital cog for the Blue and Gold. After netting two points, five rebounds and three assists in the opener at Memphis (11/8), the guard followed with career-highs of 17 points and four assists in an also career-best 37 minutes played in ETSU’s 81-72 win at Appalachian State (11/12). Christopher’s performance in the Bucs’ first win of the season at App State led to her being named A-Sun Player of the Week by College Sports Madness on Monday, Nov. 18. The sophomore then added another team-leading scoring performance to her résumé with 15 points in a 77-69 loss to Morehead State on Nov. 21. In an 87-76 win versus George Mason on Dec. 28, Christopher tallied a career-high tying 17 points including a career-best five makes from three-point land. In her first game off of the bench this season, the guard notched her first-career double-double with 14 points and a career-best 14 rebounds in a 74-68 win versus Kennesaw State (1/23).
Freshman Shamauria Bridges has been a great offensive boost for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. The rookie guard is averaging 6.6 points per game in 19 minutes of play and has demonstrated the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. The Florida native has knocked down a trio of triples in three different games this season with the most recent performance coming on Jan. 25 versus Mercer. In her first career start, Bridges led the Bucs with a career-best 19 points in a 74-68 win against Kennesaw State on Jan. 23.
HOTCHKINS PERFECT FROM DEEP
Forced into increased minutes due to ETSU’s lack of depth as a result of injuries, freshman Jasmine Hotchkins played a career-high 28 minutes, which featured a career-best 12 points including a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc in a 72-57 win at North Florida (2/1). The rookie currently averages 4.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11 minutes per game and has proven to be a serviceable backup to point guard Brianna McQueen.
MCQUEEN DISHING IT OUT
Sophomore Brianna McQueen has been a strong lead guard for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. Using her quickness, the Georgia native is averaging a solid 11.8 points per game at the point guard position and is also getting her teammates involved with 3.6 assists per game. This assist mark ranks fifth in the Atlantic Sun and will need to continue to keep ETSU’s offense near the top of the conference.
BUCS ON THE OFFENSIVE
Through 20 games during the 2013-14 season, ETSU is currently averaging 68.4 points per game which is second in the A-Sun. With the 68.4 points per game also come successes in field goal percentage, where the Bucs are second in the league at 41 percent, and in three-point field goal percentage, where ETSU is third in the conference at 33 percent.
BOND ANCHORS PAINT
After averaging 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 26 games and six starts in 2012-13, junior forward Maria Bond has proved to be a force in the interior during the 2013-14 campaign. The native Georgian has started 18 games this season and is currently averaging 10.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Bond posted a season-high 18 points in a 75-67 win versus Indiana State (12/18) and remains a vital piece in ETSU’s paint production going forward.
75 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
Since the 2002-03 season the Bucs are 111-20 when the they hit the 75-point plateau, including 80-15 since the 2006-07 season. In the early portion of the 2013-14 conference season, ETSU put up 78 to defeat Lipscomb (1/2), 78-75, to earn the 111th such victory.
HAVING FUN IN THE A-SUN
The Bucs have enjoyed a lot of success since joining the A-Sun in 2005-06 … since joining the league, the Buccaneers have averaged double-digit conference wins a year, including a league-best and school record 18-2 mark in 2009-10, three Atlantic Sun Tournament titles (2008-2010), and two regular season championships (2008 and 2010) …in total, ETSU is 108-52 (.675) against conference foes since moving into the A-Sun … the Bucs have also won 88 of their last 130 games against conference foes (includes A-Sun Championship games).
BUCS PICKED MIDDLE OF THE PACK
The Atlantic Sun coaches picked the Bucs to finish tied with North Florida at fifth, while in the media poll ETSU was selected seventh ... the coaches picked FGCU with seven first-place votes to win the conference, while the media selected FGCU with 30 first-place votes ... the Bucs finished the 2012-13 season in eighth place.
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