Points off turnovers key as Lady Bucs advance to A-Sun Finals
Friday, March 7, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mar. 7, 2008) - Senior Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) scored a game-high 23 points and sophomore Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) poured in 17, helping the ETSU women's basketball team cruise to an 84-64 semifinal victory over Lipscomb Friday afternoon in the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Tournament from Allen Arena.


The Lady Buccaneers (20-11) scored 45 points off 31 Lipscomb turnovers in the win.


The victory is the Lady Bucs' seventh straight win and propelled them into Saturday's tournament final against Jacksonville. ETSU will look to avenge last year's 69-57 loss to Belmont in the championship game and earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Today's win also marked the first time in the program's existence that ETSU has recorded back-to-back 20-plus win seasons. Lipscomb's Cinderella run came to an end and the Lady Bisons wrapped up the year 10-22 overall.   


DeVault finished 8-of-16 from the floor (5-for-11 from behind the arc) and Belcher ended 7-of-10 with six steals and five rebounds. Sophomore TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) netted 11 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished our a career-high six assists in 31 minutes of work. Lipscomb's Jilian Partin scored a team high 17 points. 


The Lady Bucs again opened up on a hot start as they led 16-9 heading into the first media timeout. ETSU hit seven of its first nine shots in the first five minutes and Belcher contributed in a huge way, going 3-for-3.


Lipscomb hung around and cut the Lady Bucs' advantage to one, 20-19, but DeVault's second trey of the game gave ETSU a little breathing room, 23-19, with 11:27 left in the half. The Lady Bisons were able to keep things close as they out-rebounded ETSU, 10-2, in the opening eight minutes and scored seven second-chance points off seven offensive rebounds. Fortunately, for the Lady Bucs, DeVault remained on fire as she scored five of ETSU's next seven points and held a four-point lead with 7:04 on clock, 30-26.


The next four minutes remained tight, but Belcher's fifth steal led to a Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) three-pointer, giving the Lady Bucs a 35-29 lead at the 4:25 mark. From there, Lipscomb got to within two, 35-33, but ETSU closed out the last 1:37 on a 5-0 run to take a 40-33 lead in the locker room.


ETSU's hot shooting helped guide them in the first 20 minutes as they posted a 51.6 clip (16-31), compared to Lipscomb's 40 percent mark (12-30). The Lady Buccaneer defense also helped create more than half of their scoring as they posted 24 points off 17 Lady Bison turnovers. DeVault led all scorers at the break with 13, while Jilian Partin and Katie Rollins each chipped in eight apiece for Lipscomb.


The Lady Buccaneers carried their momentum over into the second half as they forced Lipscomb to call its fourth timeout after another Evans 3-pointer put ETSU up 10, 48-38, with 17:38 remaining in the contest. A 19-6 run gave the Lady Bucs a 73-48 lead, when Belcher converted an old-fashion three-point play. During the stretch, DeVault nailed two deep bombs, and helped fuel the fire for ETSU as they mounted an overall run of 38-15 that lasted from the 1:37 mark of the first half to 8:32 left in the game. Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) pushed the lead to 28, which was the largest of the night, when she connected on a three-pointer in front of ETSU's bench with just under eight minutes to go in the ballgame. Lipscomb fought hard to the final buzzer, but last night's upset over Belmont took too much gas out of its tank.


ETSU shot 47.1 percent (33-of-70) from the field and held Lipscomb to a 35.5 shooting percentage (22-of-62) over the 40 minute contest. Freshman point guard Kami Phillips (Augusta, Ga.) dished out nine of ETSU's 24 assists, while Belcher and senior Nichelle Akers (Sumter, S.C.) forced 10 of the 19 Lady Buccaneer steals. Akers finished with four.


ETSU and Jacksonville tip off at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon and all the action can be seen live on CSS. The Lady Bucs ended the Dolphins' 17-game home winning streak back on Jan. 28 with their 80-74 victory. ETSU leads the all-time series, 5-1.


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