Johnson City, Tenn. (Feb. 9, 2002) -- The East Tennessee State Lady Bucs closed the game on a 7-0 run in the last 1:33 of the game to defeat the College of Charleston Cougars, 82-79, Saturday afternoon from Memorial Center in Johnson City.
East Tennessee State (9-14, 4-10 SoCon) led the game 38-32 at the half. The half went back and forth, with seven lead changes and five ties. The largest lead of the half was the halftime margin of six, after consecutive three-pointers by Kiya Verdell (Hartwell, Ga.) to close the half. Leslie Burleson (Buladean, N.C.) also caught fire from three-point range, scoring nine consecutive Lady Buc points after hitting three straight treys from 5:25 remaining in the half to the 3:28 mark.
"Leslie (Burleson) came off the bench in the first half and gave us a big spark," said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp following the game. "Erin (Thurman) and Ashley (Reed) had been struggling and Leslie really got us going."
College of Charleston's (12-10, 6-8) Rachel King had a game-high 10 points at the half. The Cougars hit the boards in the first half, outrebounding the Lady Bucs 30-20.
The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first, with five more ties and seven more lead changes in the second stanza. ETSU led by as many as six points on two occasions, the last coming at 48-42 with 16:16 remaining after a Candace Gibson (Warner Robins, Ga.) layup.
College of Charleston had the biggest lead of the game, going up by seven, 70-63, after a Brittney Scarberry jumper with 5:47 remaining in the game. Then the Lady Bucs awakened, going on a 7-0 run, culminating with a Lauren Trantham (Asheville, N.C.) layup that tied the score at 70.
The Cougars would take the lead down the stretch, holding a 79-75 advantage with 1:33 left in the game. Megan Jackson (Paris, Tenn.) made one of two free throws to cut the lead to four, 79-75, with 1:21 remaining. That was when junior guard Samantha Copeland (Evansville, Tenn.) would take control of the game.
Copeland stole the ball from Cougar center Wilma Simpson and got the ball to Misty Copas (Kingsport, Tenn.) who was fouled and made two free throws to trim the Cougar lead to one, 79-78. Copeland would then steal the ensuing inbounds pass and made a baseline jumper to put the Lady Bucs in the lead, 80-79, with 40 seconds remaining.
Senior guard Erin Thurman (Hixson, Tenn.) stole the ball on College of Charleston's next possession, and Trantham would hit a free-throw line jumper to put ETSU up by three, 82-79, with 15 seconds left. The Cougars got the ball up the floor and got a good look for a potential game-tying three pointer, but the shot was blocked by Copeland.
Copeland led ETSU with 13 points, including 2-2 from three-point range, in just 13 minutes of play. Copas scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting from the field. Gibson scored a career-high 11 points, hitting some key shots in the first half. Jackson also scored in double-digits, with 10 points on the night.
Simpson led the Cougars, scoring a game-high 19 points, on 9-14 shooting from the field. Becky Wollenberg came off the bench to score 14 points, including two three-pointers. Scarberry also came off the bench to score 11 points. King tallied 10 points for College of Charleston, but did not score in the second half.
The Lady Buc win stops a skid of losing six-straight games that were decided by six points or less. "We just have to go out there and play our game, just be relaxed," said coach Kemp. "They got up by seven late and we did not panic."
ETSU returns to action on Monday night against Western Carolina at 7 p.m. from Memorial Center. College of Charleston returns home to play Appalachian State Monday night from John Kresse Arena in Charleston, S.C.