Banjo's 39 propels Lady Bucs to 81-74 victory over Southeast Missouri State
Sophomore Nichelle Akers scored a season-high 14 points in Wednesday's victory.
Sophomore Nichelle Akers scored a season-high 14 points in Wednesday's victory.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (December 28, 2005) - Senior B.J. Banjo (Baltimore, Md.) tallied a career-high 39 points Wednesday night, as the Lady Bucs topped Southeast Missouri State, 81-74, in Memorial Center.  Banjo led a trio of Lady Bucs in double figures, with Candace Gibson (Warner Robins, Ga.) and Nichelle Akers (Sumter, S.C.) contributing 14 apiece.

           

With the win, the Lady Bucs improve to 6-3 on the season, while the Redhawks drop below .500, at 5-6.  The victory was also the sixth-straight home win for the Lady Bucs, who have won all four games in the Mini Dome this season. 

 

Banjo's scoring performance is one of the best in school history, as the senior is currently tied for eighth in the Lady Bucs' single-game scoring archives.  Her career output is also near the top of the entire NCAA, as her 39-point performance is the fourth-highest in the country this season, according to statistics through Dec. 19.

           

A full-court press by the Redhawks stifled the Lady Bucs' offense early on, as ETSU was held scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of play, until Banjo broke the ice with 15:38 remaining in the opening frame.  The game was back-and-forth for the entire half, with seven lead changes and 10 ties.  Down 29-26 with just over a minute remaining in the opener, the Lady Bucs would take the 31-29 lead with five-straight points by Banjo.  However, a last-second layup by Rachel Blunt evened the score at 31 heading into the half.

           

The Lady Bucs' defense was also strong in the first period, as ETSU forced 11 Redhawk turnovers, and held SEMO's leading scorer, Tatiana Conceicao, to just three first-half points.  Conceicao would erupt in the second half, however, ending the game with a team-best 21.

           

ETSU would wake up after the half, going on a 17-2 run to start the frame, extending the lead to 15 at 48-33, with just under 15 minutes remaining.  The 15-point advantage would be the game's largest.

           

SEMO managed to tie the game once during the second half, and got within three, at 75-72, with just 1:53 left to play.  The Lady Bucs answered the challenge, however, pulling away by nine in the next minute and a half, thanks to five free throws from Banjo, and one from Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio).  DeVault scored eight points on the night.

           

Banjo was the team leader in rebounds with seven, followed by Gibson and Akers with six apiece. Defensively, DeVault and Brooke Wilhoit (Sevierville, Tenn.) led the way with three steals each, while Gibson tied her own career best with four blocks.  The Lady Bucs forced 22 turnovers on the evening, while making 14 miscues.

           

The Redhawks were paced by Conceicao with 21, followed by Rachel Blunt with 16.  Natalie Purcell pulled down seven rebounds, while Conceicao and Tiffanne Ryan managed five boards apiece.

           

The Lady Bucs are now off until the new year, when they head into their Atlantic Sun schedule with Kennesaw State on Jan. 2.  Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Memorial Center.

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