Lady Bucs set to square off with Oklahoma State in NCAA Tournament
Sophomore Siarre Evans leads the Lady Bucs in scoring and rebounding.
Sophomore Siarre Evans leads the Lady Bucs in scoring and rebounding.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

DES MOINES, IOWA (Mar. 20, 2008) - The historic 2007-08 ETSU women's basketball season continues this weekend when the Lady Buccaneers make their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament Saturday night from Wells Fargo Arena. Tip is scheduled for 7:12 CST and can be seen live on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360 with Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Fran Fraschilla (color) and Ron Johnson (sideline) serving as the talent.

 

Below are the Lady Bucs' NCAA Tournament Notes:

Viewing the Cowgirls

The nationally ranked Oklahoma State women's basketball team is one of eight Big 12 schools playing the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The Cowgirls are currently ranked 13th in the AP and 14th in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Poll, and enter play with an overall record of 25-7, 11-5 in Big 12. Oklahoma State is making its second consecutive appearance in the Big Dance and the Cowgirls are enjoying their highest seed in school history (No. 3).

 

Oklahoma State is led by 5-5 sophomore guard Andrea Riley and 5-8 senior guard Danielle Green. Riley has already scored 1,118 points in her two-year career and is averaging 22.9 points per game. Green is posting 13.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in 32 contests for the Cowgirls this season.

 

OSU will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak in the NCAA Tournament. The Cowgirls are 4-8 all time in the event. OSU is making its first back-to-back NCAA appearance since its four-year run from 1993-96.

 

ETSU Making Its First-Ever NCAA Tournament Appearance

The ETSU women's basketball team is making its third postseason appearance and first-ever visit to the Big Dance. This marks the second consecutive season the Lady Buccaneers are making a postseason appearance (2007 WNIT).

 

ETSU earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after knocking off No. 2 seed Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun Championship back on Mar. 8 in Nashville. Sophomore Latisha Belcher scored a career-high 24 points and the Lady Bucs withheld a late Dolphin rally for a 75-72 victory.

 

The Lady Bucs won the regular season A-Sun crown with a 14-2 record in conference play and are currently riding an eight-game winning streak into Iowa. Along with Belcher, ETSU is led by Siarre Evans and Michele DeVault. Evans leads the squad in points (13.4) and rebounds (7.1), while DeVault is averaging 12.8pts and a team-leading 2.5 threes per game.

 

Another 14 Seed for the Atlantic Sun

For the second straight year the Atlantic Sun Conference received a 14 seed, as Belmont was also rewarded the same ranking a year ago. However, the Bruins fell to third-seeded Georgia, 53-36. The 14 seed is the highest ranking for an A-Sun team since Florida International was a seven in 1998, which also marked the first time a team from the league won a NCAA Tournament game. FIU defeated Marquette, 59-45, in Chapel Hill. FIU is the only member from the Atlantic Sun to ever win an NCAA Tournament game (two wins).

 

Wins, Wins, and More Wins...

ETSU has tied its school record for most wins in a single season this year with 21. The winning campaign is also the third straight season ETSU has finished above .500, marking the first time the Lady Bucs have accomplished the feat since the 1984 season. ETSU is currently on a program-tying eight-game winning streak. The Lady Bucs have not lost since falling at Florida Gulf Coast back on Feb. 11.

 

Belcher Named Tournament MVP

Sophomore post Latisha Belcher enjoyed a spectacular Atlantic Sun Tournament two weeks ago. The Martinsville, Va. native averaged 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5.3 steals in 30 minutes of work for the Lady Bucs in Nashville. Belcher also hit 66.7 percent of her shots (20-30) and 85 percent from the charity stripe (17-20). The star post player set new career highs in points (24), steals (8), field goals made (9), free throws (8) and minutes played (36) during the four-day, three-game tourney.

 

Storylines

Back in 1968, the ETSU men's basketball team made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bucs beat Florida State, 79-69, and faced Ohio State in the second round of the Mideast Regional. Ironically, should ETSU get past Oklahoma State in the first round, the Lady Bucs would have to face either the Buckeyes or the Seminoles in round two. In addition, ETSU picked up its first tournament win as a 14 seed.

 

Conference Award Winners...

On Tuesday, March 4, the Atlantic Sun announced its all-conference winners. Senior Michele DeVault and sophomore Siarre Evans were named First Team All-Atlantic Sun, while Karen Kemp was tabbed Coach of the Year by her peers, marking the second time she has received the award (1995 SoCon COTY).

 

Record Breakers

The Lady Bucs have scored 2,405 points on the year and are only 28 points shy of setting a new school mark ETSU already set new program records with 123 blocks and 891 made field goals, and today marks the most games played in a season at 33 the Lady Bucs are 23 steals away breaking that record as well.

 

Lady Bucs Vs. Teams In The Tournament

The Lady Bucs have faced four teams in this years' 2008 field on the season. Despite going 0-4 against those foes, ETSU still stood its ground against the strong competition. The Lady Bucs opened the campaign with a 90-73 loss at Western Kentucky in the Preseason WNIT. ETSU also faced Chattanooga (69-70), Xavier (67-76) and Liberty (60-64).

 

Tennessee Teams In The Big Dance

ETSU represents one of four teams in the 2008 NCAA Tournament (Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt) ... the four teams is tied for third for most appearances by a state with Ohio and Pennsylvania ... Texas has six teams and California is second with five ... with the Lady Bucs making their first appearance in the dance, it now leaves Tennessee-Martin as the only D-1 women's team from the state to have never made the NCAA Tournament ... for the 14th time since the inception of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, Tennessee has produced a minimum of four teams in the tournament ... Tennessee is one of 23 states to have at least one team in the 2008 Tournament (Source: Johnny Franks, Sports Historian, Nashville, Tenn.)

 

Shot Blockers

ETSU set a new program record with its 13 blocks versus UNC Asheville back on Dec. 1. Sophomore Latisha Belcher and freshman Kami Phillips each set career highs in that contest. Belcher swatted five shots and Phillips had three. Senior Jenny Norman also likes to get in on the fun when it comes to blocking shots. She had a career high six blocks vs. Kennesaw State in early Feb. and had all five of ETSU's blocks last Saturday at Upstate. Norman ranks fourth in the A-Sun with 1.04, while the Lady Bucs rank third overall as a team at 3.8 per game.

 

Blasting Away The Competition

The Lady Buccaneers led the conference with their +16.9 scoring margin in league games only. ETSU averaged a conference-best 79.7 points per game and allowed 62.8 points per contest. The Lady Bucs posted two 40+ wins and one 30+ win this year.

 

Dishin' Them Out Like Candy!!!

Freshman point guard Kami Phillips leads the team with 114 assists on the season, and she has boasted some impressive stats over her last eight games. The Augusta, Ga. native has tallied 47 assists and only 14 turnovers during this stretch. Phillips set a new career mark by dishing out 11 assists last month at Campbell, and became the first Lady Buccaneer player to past the 10+ plateau since Brooke Wilhoit passed out 14 vs. Kennesaw State last season.

 

PERFECTION!!!

Sophomore post Latisha Belcher closed out the final regular season game with a perfect 7-for-7 shooting performance at USC Upstate. It marked the first time a Lady Buccaneer was perfect from the floor (min. of seven field goals) since Megan Jackson went 8-of-8 vs. Chattanooga on Dec. 29, 2001.

 

Close Calls

The Lady Bucs could easily be 26-6, but the ball just did not bounce their way in some hard-fought battles this season. Five of ETSU's 11 losses have been decided by six points or less and three have been by three or less. Some of those losses have come against the top teams in the country, including Chattanooga (RPI of 43) and Liberty (RPI of 38).

 

Blocker's Bringing It Back

DeShawne Blocker is one of ETSU's greatest players of all-time and tallied some very impressive statistics during her playing days in Johnson City. Now Blocker is bringing some of the magic back to the ETSU current players. Blocker played for head coach Karen Kemp in her senior season back in 1994-95. That was Kemp's first year at ETSU and marked one of the best seasons in school history as the Lady Bucs won a program-tying 21 wins and earned their first-ever postseason tournament bid (WNIT). Last year marked Blocker's first season as an assistant on Kemp's staff and ETSU went on to tally 20 wins and make its second-ever trip to postseason play, again in the WNIT. Now this season, ETSU is making its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament and totalled 21 wins on the year.

 

Back To Back Postseason Appearances This marks the first time ETSU is making back-to-back postseason appearances. Last season the Lady Bucs represented the A-Sun in the 2007 WNIT at Western Carolina.

 

Youngsters Gettin' It Done

The freshmen and sophomore players are averaging 61 percent of the Lady Buccaneer scoring and 65 percent of the minutes played this season. In total, they have scored 1,474 of the 2,405 points and played in 4,164 of the 6,425 minutes.

 

Century Markers

For the second straight season ETSU has posted over 100 points in a ball game. Last month, the Lady Bucs plastered 102 on Belmont, marking the first time since Nov. 21, 2006 since ETSU reached the 100-point plateau. The Lady Bucs poured in 104 back on that date vs. Appalachian State. The 43-point victory over Belmont marked the largest win this season.

 

Winning Ways

Standing at 21-11, the Lady Buccaneers have secured themselves their third straight winning season for the first time since the end of the 1983-84 campaign.   

 

Balanced Scoring Attack

ETSU does an excellent job distributing the ball and finding the open player as seven different Lady Buccaneer players have led the team in scoring this season; while four ETSU players are averaging over 10 points per game in A-Sun action. Senior Michele DeVault leads the team with 12.9 points per contest, but Siarre Evans, Latisha Belcher and TaRonda Wiles also highlight the scoring attack in the 16 games played. Evans is adding 12.5, Belcher 12.0, and Wiles is at 10.9. In addition, In total, 10 of the 13 Lady Buc players have clipped the double-digit scoring plateau at least once this season, and six have accomplished the feat on multiple occasions.

 

STREAKING!!!

After falling to Florida Gulf Coast three weeks ago, ETSU has not lost since as they have posted an eight-game winning streak.  Also, ETSU closed out its home portion of the schedule with six straight wins. During this eight-game run, ETSU is scoring 85.4ppg and hitting 48.4 percent of its shots (255-527) as well as 43.2 from behind the arc (51-118). The Lady Bucs are also beating their opponents by 21ppg and forcing them to turn the ball 22.1 (+4.35 turnover margin). 

 

Lady Bucs Great in 08

Since opening the season 3-7, the Lady Buccaneers have been a force to be reckoned over their last 22 games. ETSU is currently 18-4 during this stretch, and have outscored its opponents by almost 15 points per game (78.2-63.7) and are forcing 23.0 turnovers as well as dishing out 17.4 assists per game in this red-hot run.

 

The DeVault File

In January, Michele DeVault became the 15th Lady Buccaneer player of all-time to reach the 1,000-point club when she nailed a three-pointer from the corner in the second half of the G'Webb game (first player since B.J. Banjo in 2005-06 to accomplish feat). Also, with that trey, DeVault moved past Banjo on the all-time career three-point list with 177 threes made. Now DeVault has scored 1,241 points, putting her 9th on the all-time ETSU scoring list (8 points shy of passing former teammate Tiffani Mayes). DeVault also has 233 total treys in her career. The Columbus, Ohio native sank a career-high six treys at Jacksonville and scored a career-high 25 points in the 77-74 victory over Evansville in November. DeVault was also held scoreless for the first time since Dec. 21, 2005 against UNF on Jan. 25, but grabbed a season-high 10 boards in the 18-point victory. The senior leader is posting 12.8 points per game, which is her highest average in her four-year career and second on the team.

 

Nationally Ranked Lady Bucs...

As a team, ETSU ranks 14th in scoring (75.2), 18th in steals (11.4), 21st in assists (16.1), 36th in three-point field-goal percentage (35.9) and 43rd in field-goal percentage (43.6). Three Lady Buccaneer players also rank among the top 100 on the charts. Michele DeVault is 16th in 3-point field-goal percentage (42.7) and 37 in 3-point field-goals per game (2.5). Freshman point guard Kami Phillips ranks 79th in assist-turnover ratio (1.63), while sophomore Latisha Belcher is 93rd in steals (2.3).

 

Where's the Scoring coming from?

44 percent of the Lady Buccaneer 2,405 points scored this season has come inside the paint (1,052 points). However, only 19 percent of ETSU's points are coming from behind the arc (459 points), leaving the remaining 37 percent of the scoring coming either at the free throw line (19 percent, 470 points) and the remaining 18 percent (424 points) of the scoring comes from outside jumpers.

 

Money in the Bank...

The Lady Bucs have not lost this season when they held a lead at the five minute mark. Also, should ETSU hold their opponent under 60 points, it is safe to say they will win the contest since the Lady Bucs are 9-0 when not allowing over 60 points. ETSU is 10-0 when scoring over 80, and 15-1 when holding the opponent under 70.

 

Lady Bucs Havin' Fun in the A-Sun

Prior to the season, ETSU was picked to finish first in the conference according to the media and second by the coaches. The Lady Bucs lived up to the media rankings as they won the regular season crown with a record of 14-2. During the last three seasons, ETSU has tallied 42 regular season conference wins and the Lady Bucs have the highest winning percentage among conference foes both all-time and in conference play. ETSU is currently 57-17 (.770) all-time against current A-Sun members and 46-14 (.767) in league play (including the conference tournament). The Lady Bucs have perfect marks against Campbell (6-0), Kennesaw State (5-0), North Florida (5-0) and USC Upstate (2-0) all-time as well as against Stetson (5-0) in league play only.

 

The Belcher Bomber

Over the last 22 games sophomore post Latisha Belcher has been showing the Buccaneer faithful why she earned the starting post slot. Belcher is averaging 12.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.0 steals in 23.4 minutes since taking over the starting spot, beginning on Jan. 2 at Alabama. During the stretch ETSU is 18-4. The sophomore post player netted a career-high 24 points in the conference championship win over Jacksonville. Prior to that, Belcher posted back-to-back double-double efforts against Lipscomb and Appalachian State. Belcher has four career double-doubles, three coming this season. SEE PAGE 6 FOR COMPLETE BREAKDOWN. The Martinsville, Va. native ranks second in steals (2.7), fourth in rebounding (7.3), fifth in offensive rebounds (2.9) and tied for 10th in blocks (0.9) in league games only.

 

Evans Is Amazing

Sophomore Siarre Evans won her second Atlantic Sun POTW award for her career during the week of Feb. 5, as she just missed a double-double (14pts/9reb). Evans has seven double-doubles on the year and 15 for her career. Evans notched her seventh double-double of the season with her 16-point, 11-rebound effort vs. Mercer on March 5. She began the season with three consecutive double-double performances and then posted back-to-back feats at Radford and Xavier. Evans posted her sixth vs. Kennesaw State (17pts/10 reb). Currently she ranks fifth in the conference in rebounding (7.1) and scoring (13.6 per game). The all-around star has scored double figures in 43 of her 63 games played (68.3 percent) and has led the team in rebounding 15 times this season.

 

Wiles Watch

Sophomore TaRonda Wiles is enjoying a much improved Lady Buccaneer season. After averaging only 5.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 15.9 minutes a year ago, the Danville, Va. native has started in 31 of the 32 games for ETSU this season, posting 9.8ppg and 4.7rpg in 27.2 minutes of work. The guard/forward set new career highs in points (21) and field goals made (10) vs. Belmont. She scored 16 points and forced a career-high six steals vs. Campbell. Wiles posted back-to-back 10 rebound efforts at Alabama and USC Upstate, which sets a new career high. Earlier this season she scored a career-high 19 points at Davidson, and dished out a career-high six assists vs. Lipscomb in the A-Sun semifinals. She also set a new career-mark with two blocks against Chattanooga and Asheville.

 

Lady Bucs Receive $45,000 Grant From The NCAA

East Tennessee State University received one of 17 grants as part of the newly designed NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Grant Program.  Approximately $750,000 in grant money was given to schools and conferences by the NCAA.  ETSU received $45,000 as part of the program. The grant program is designed to foster the growth of women's basketball on NCAA member campuses and within NCAA member conferences. More than 70 member institutions and conferences submitted proposals in the first year of the three-year pilot program. National office staff and representatives from the NCAA women's basketball marketing consultant firm Hawkeye Sports and Entertainment evaluated the proposals. A call for the second round of proposals will be issued this fall for the 2009-10 academic year.

 

A Look Ahead

The winner of ETSU/Oklahoma State will face the winner of Ohio State and Florida State on Monday, March 24. Tip is set for 8:30 p.m.

                                                           

For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.

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