The victory moved No. 1 ETSU into Friday's semifinals and will face the winner of Thursday night's Belmont/Lipscomb game. The Lady Bucs have now won six straight and stand at 19-11 overall, while Mercer fell to 4-26 to close out its season.
Joining Evans in double figures were Michele DeVault (
The Lady Bucs wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as they tallied six points in the first twenty-four seconds of action. From there, ETSU made it nine unanswered until Sarah Russell's layup at the 18:33 mark put Mercer on the board. The Bears' scrappy play kept the game close and cut ETSU's margin to four, 14-10, when Cristin Seymour connected on a jumper less than six minutes into the contest, forcing head coach Karen Kemp to call a thirty-second timeout. Whatever Kemp told her club worked, as the Lady Buccaneers mounted a 21-9 run and led, 35-19, on a pair of Jenny Norman (
Eventually, ETSU pushed its lead to 18, 42-24; however, just when it looked like the Lady Buccaneers had everything in control Mercer clawed its way back into the contest. The Bears used a 9-0 spurt to cut the Lady Buccaneer advantage to 42-33, marking the first time since the 12:09 mark where the game was in single digits. A Belcher tip-in with 24 seconds sent ETSU into the break with a 44-33 advantage.
For the half, ETSU shot 45.2 percent (14-31) and Mercer had a 42.9 shooting percentage (15-35). The well-balanced Lady Buccaneer attack flexed its muscles as all five starters were in the scoring column and DeVault led the crew with 11. Mercer's LaToya Jackson led all scorers at 15. ETSU out-rebounded the Bears, 23-15, but 13 Lady Buccaneer turnovers helped Mercer fuel its late first half scoring run. The Bears scored 12 points off those miscues, but Mercer did cough the ball up 11 times, resulting in 15 points for ETSU. Free throw shooting is what helped the Lady Bucs as ETSU went 12-for-14 and Mercer only went to the stripe once.
ETSU stormed out of the gates with a 13-5 run to start the second half and led 57-38 with 14:56 remaining. Wiles and Evans helped guide the Lady Bucs as they combined to score nine points in the five minute span. After an Evans jumper made it 61-41, Mercer would get to within 12, 69-57, but it was too little too late to pull off any upset. ETSU outscored the Bears 14-5 in the final six minutes to come away with the 21-point victory.
For the game the Lady Bucs were 26-of-62 (41.9 percent) from the floor, compared to Mercer's 24-for-60 (40 percent) showing. ETSU was an amazing 92.9 percent (26-28) from the free throw line and out-rebounded the Bears, 42-32. Freshman Tara Davis (
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