JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 30, 2002) - East Tennessee State women's basketball team didn't show many signs of rust coming off a 12-day break from action. On Monday night the Buccaneers closed out 2002 on a positive note with an 84-77 victory over UNC Asheville at Memorial Center.
"I was very pleased with how we started the game," said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. "But we have to learn to put people away when we get a lead and not let them back in the game."
ETSU enjoyed its largest lead with 12:49 to play in the second half when junior Lauren Trantham (Asheville, N.C.) scored a layup off a steal and assist by forward Jessica Lonon (Sylvania, Ga.) to give the Lady Bucs a 15-point advantage.
The Bulldogs never backed down, however, and rallied back to take their first lead of the game, 68-67, with 6:41 to play off a three-point basket by senior Gillian Murray (Raleigh, N.C.). But ETSU's offensive balance proved to be too much for UNCA at the Buccaneers boasted six players who scored double figures.
Trantham led the Buccaneers with a season-high 19 points, followed by sophomore center Tiffani Mayes (Sumter, S.C.), who had scored 16 points before fouling out with 3:16 remaining in the contest. Lonon and senior guard Samantha Copeland (Evansville, Tenn.) added 12 and 11 points, respectively, while junior Kiya Verdell (Hartwell, Ga.) and freshman Adrienne Walker (Augusta, Ga.) scored 10 points each.
"It was very encouraging to see our offense be that balanced," said Kemp. "But we have to stop giving up easy baskets on the defensive end. After the Coastal (Carolina) game, we felt we needed to work on our defense, but I give credit to UNC Asheville. They have a new coach [Betsy Blose], and she has done a tremendous job getting everything out of her players."
Monday's victory was the second straight victory for the Lady Bucs at Memorial Center this season as ETSU remained undefeated at home. The Lady Bucs will open up the new year when they host defending Southern Conference champion Chattanooga on Thursday, Jan. 2 at Memorial Center. Tip-off is set for 5:15 p.m. Afterwards, the Buccaneer men will play host to Juniata at 7:30 p.m.