JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 17, 2004) - Aisha Byrant's jumper was blocked by Lauren Trantham (Asheville, N.C.) as time expired Saturday, as East Tennessee State prevailed in a 65-64 victory from Memorial Center. With the win, the Lady Bucs extend their home winning streak to seven games, including a perfect 6-0 start to the 2003-04 season.
"We knew this was going to be a tough game for us," said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. "We were fortunate to pull it out at the end."
ETSU improves to 7-8 overall and 7-3 in the SoCon. Meanwhile, Appalachian State falls to 3-12 on the season, including a 2-6 mark in the conference.
Sophomore point guard B.J. Banjo (Baltimore, Md.) came through in the clutch by draining a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left, giving ETSU the lead and eventual victory. As a team, the Lady Bucs converted on 88.2 percent of their free throws, which is the highest percentage this year.
"This was the first time all season we hit key free throws," said Kemp, whose teams remains in second place in the SoCon standings behind undefeated Chattanooga. "That was the difference today."
Bryant, the Southern Conference's second leading scorer, finished with 16 points. She struggled from the floor shooting just 6-of-20 and 0-of-7 from beyond the arc, but picked it up on the defensive end by tallying a game-high six steals. Kiki Conyers and Crystal Barriner contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Mountaineers. Kiki Conyers and Crystal Barriner contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Mountaineers. The Mountaineers led by as many as 12 points in the first half and took a 29-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
East Tennessee State was able to overcome 29 turnovers thanks in part to the hot shooting of senior Kiya Verdell (Hartwell, Ga.). For the third consecutive game Verdell led all scorers with 19 points. She connected on all three of her 3-pt. baskets in the second half and finished the day 7-of-13 shooting from the floor to go along with six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Trantham recorded her third double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and senior Jessica Lonon (Sylvania, Ga.) eclipsed double digits in scoring for the eighth time in her last nine games by adding 12 points to the winning effort.
Appalachian State, which has yet to win on the road this season, returns home to face Chattanooga on Monday, Jan. 17. ETSU will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 24, when the Lady Bucs travel to Wofford for a 1 p.m. contest with the Terriers.