Bucs can clinch No. 6 seed in A-Sun Championship with a win or a Kennesaw State loss Thursday at Jacksonville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 5, 2014) – Embarking on its final regular season road trip of the year, the ETSU women’s basketball team will begin the trek with a visit to Lipscomb University to take on the Lady Bisons on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. EST inside Allen Arena.
The Bucs will look to continue the momentum after dismantling North Florida, 76-41, on Senior Night inside the MSHA Athletics Center this past Saturday. ETSU started fast, pulling ahead by eight points with 16 minutes to go in the first. A subsequent Blue & Gold surge allowed the Bucs to achieve its largest lead of the opening period, 32-11, with 3:40 remaining before taking a 38-20 advantage into halftime.
ETSU continued to pour it on in the second half, gaining a 30-point lead with six minutes left to play. Down the stretch, the Blue & Gold continued to separate from the Ospreys, resulting in a 76-41 Bucs’ victory. ETSU was led by 19 points from both junior Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and lone-departing senior Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.). The Bucs also got 14 points – all in the first half – from freshman guard Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.), including a season-high tying four made three-pointers.
ETSU (9-18, 5-11) and Lipscomb (5-22, 2-14) will square off Thursday in the 19th all-time meeting between the two schools; a series that ETSU dominates, 17-1. The Bucs have won 14-straight versus the Lady Bisons including the most recent matchup earlier this season when the Blue & Gold came away victorious, 78-75, on Jan. 2 inside the MSHA Athletics Center. LU’s only all-time victory against ETSU came on Feb. 3, 2007 in a 57-52 decision.
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. LIPSCOMB
The Bucs were able to start league action in the win column with a 78-75 triumph over the Lipscomb Lady Bisons on Thursday, Jan. 2, inside the Dome. ETSU took a nine-point lead into halftime but a fiery LU squad fought back to take a one-point advantage with 2:37 remaining in the contest. With the game tied at 73 all, a Maria Bond bucket in the paint with 1:51 left broke the deadlock in the Bucs’ favor. Subsequent stops on defense and clutch free throws down the stretch by Serena Clark allowed ETSU to hang on for a 78-75 victory. The win was the Bucs’ 14th-straight versus Lipscomb.
RANDALL’S SENIOR NIGHT SEND-OFF
Lone departing senior Shawn Randall saved her season best for her final game inside the MSHA Athletics Center with a game and season-high 19 points in ETSU’s dominant, 76-41, Senior Night victory over the North Florida Ospreys. The guard was an efficient 8-of-12 from the field and reached these numbers after only playing 28 minutes in the contest.
BURLEY’S BIG NIGHTS
Pressed into increased minutes due to various personnel issues, junior forward Tiana Burley carried her team to victory in a 63-60 win over Kennesaw State on Feb. 20 inside the KSU Convocation Center. Off of the bench, the Georgia native posted a dominant 25 points in 22 minutes of play. This scoring mark is a career-high for Burley, while the nine rebounds are also a season best. Two days later, Burley added 17 points in a season-high 23 minutes of play in a loss at Mercer (2/22). The post player’s offensive boost will be vital for the short-handed Blue & Gold down the stretch of the season.
CLARK DOUBLES UP
Junior forward Serena Clark has been strong in 2013-14, scoring in double-figures in 15 of the 27 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 loss at USC Upstate (2/15) where she posted 10 points and 15 rebounds. Clark has now exceeded her double-double total from last season just 27 games into the 2013-14 campaign with nine this season and is poised for more throughout the year. The forward’s 10.5 points per game currently ranks among the top-25 in the A-Sun, while her 10.1 boards per game are third in the league.
Junior guard Cara Bowling is currently the leading scorer on the team with 11.2 points per game during the 2013-14 season. Presently, this point total per game ranks among the top 20 in the A-Sun while her 1.7 three-point field goal makes per game is in the top 10 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 did miss six games this season, from Jan. 19 – Feb.1, due to a hip injury, and returned to action on Feb. 8 against Stetson. The junior also missed games at Kennesaw State (2/20) and Mercer (2/22) due to illness.
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 25 of the 27 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 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). Recently, Christopher added career-highs of 17 points and five steals vs. Stetson (2/8). The guard has led ETSU in scoring and rebounding three times this season and has been the team's leader in assists in 10 games.
Freshman Shamauria Bridges has been a great offensive boost for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. The rookie guard is averaging 8.0 points per game in 22 minutes of play and has demonstrated the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. The Florida native has knocked down three or more triples in seven different games this season including season-bests of four makes at Mercer (2/22) and vs. North Florida (3/1). In her first career start, Bridges led the Bucs with 19 points in a 74-68 win against Kennesaw State on Jan. 23. The guard also led ETSU in scoring with 13 points in a loss vs. Florida Gulf Coast (2/6). Most recently, Bridges scored a team and season-high 20 points at Mercer (2/22).The first-year player has led the Bucs in scoring in three games this season and has recorded eight double-figure scoring performances. Averaging 1.5 three-point makes per game which ranks 11th in the league which is third among A-Sun freshmen.
BUCS ON THE OFFENSIVE
Through 27 games during the 2013-14 season, ETSU is currently averaging 65.7 points per game which is fifth in the A-Sun. With this points per game total also comes successes in field goal percentage, where the Bucs are fourth in the league at 40 percent, and in three-point field goal percentage, where ETSU is fifth in the conference at 31 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 25 games this season and is currently averaging 9.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Bond posted a season-high 18 points in a 75-67 win versus Indiana State (12/18) and notched her first career double-double with 15 points and a career-best 15 rebounds at USC Upstate (2/15). The junior remains a vital piece in ETSU’s paint production going forward.
75 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
Since the 2002-03 season the Bucs are 112-20 when the they hit the 75-point plateau, including 81-15 since the 2006-07 season. In the late portion of the 2013-14 season, ETSU put up 76 to defeat North Florida (3/1), 76-41, on Senior Night to earn the 112th 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 110-57 (.659) against conference foes since moving into the A-Sun … the Bucs have also won 90 of their last 137 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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