DOTHAN, Ala. (Mar. 8, 2007) - The ETSU women's basketball team made sure they did not have a repeat performance from last year's A-Sun Tournament as they defeated Lipscomb, 83-69, on Thursday evening inside the Dothan Civic Center, moving them into the semifinals with Jacksonville on Friday night.
ETSU has now won five straight games and improved to 19-10 overall, while Lipscomb ended its season with seven consecutive losses, finishing at 8-23. The win marked the Lady Bucs' first conference tournament victory since upsetting Chattanooga in the 2005 SoCon tournament.
Four ETSU players finished in double figures as junior Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.) led the way with a career-high 19 points, on 8-of-10 shooting. Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) netted 14, senior Brooke Wilhoit (Sevierville, Tenn.) chipped in 12, and Devin Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) added 11. The Lady Bucs are now 11-0 when scoring over 80 points this season.
The Lady Bucs came out focused to start the game as their suffocating defense forced Lipscomb to turn the ball over six times in the first four-plus minutes, giving ETSU an early 11-5 lead. Back-to-back threes by Dana Carrigan and Catie Woods cut the Lady Bucs' lead to 13-11; however, a 15-2 run quickly cooled off the Lady Bisons as ETSU extended its lead to 28-13. Another Woods three stopped the run, but an 8-0 run gave the Lady Bucs their largest lead of the game, 36-18, when Wilhoit drained a deep three at the 7:20 mark. ETSU never let its double digit lead go away as they took a 45-34 lead into the locker room.
Norman was perfect in the first half, going 5-of-5 from the field, including 3-for-3 from the free throw line and led all scorers with 13 points. As a team, the Lady Bucs were a blazing 61.3 percent (19-31) from floor, while Lipscomb was 46.4 percent (13-28). ETSU's defense forced 18 turnovers during the first 20 minutes, but three-point shooting kept the Lady Bisons in the game, as they were 6-of-12.
In the second half, Lipscomb cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the 12:35 mark in the first half, when Penny Jones hit a jumper with 19:09 left in the contest. ETSU quickly pushed the lead back to double figures as they posted a 9-2 run, giving them a 54-38 advantage with 16:50 remaining. The Lady Buc lead would remain above double figures for the next five minutes, until Lipscomb's Julie Martin sank a three, cutting the ETSU lead to, 62-53. Lipscomb would get to within eight points three times after, but ETSU would not let the sixth-seeded Lady Bisons get any closer.
Hot shooting led the Lady Bucs to victory as they shot 55.9 percent for the game, compared to only 40.7 for Lipscomb. ETSU dished out a season-best 22 assists and forced 25 turnovers on the night. In the five games against the Lady Bisons, the Lady Bucs have forced 141 total turnovers (28.2 per game).
Wilhoit moved into second all-time in the ETSU assist list when she found Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) open for a lay-up at the 15:31 mark in the first half, and now has 429 career assists as a Lady Buc. Thompson tied her career-high with eight rebounds, while Norman set a new career-best with four assists.
Katie Woods tied her career high with her 22-point effort, she also accomplished the feat in the 57-52 win over ETSU back on Feb. 3.
The Lady Bucs will now face Jacksonville in the second semifinal game on Friday. Tip will be 30 minutes after the first game, which is slated for 7 EST p.m., between No. 1 seed Belmont and the winner of the four-five game between Gardner-Webb/Campbell.