Lady Bucs clinch number one seed in A-Sun Tournament with win over Gardner-Webb, 88-76
Monday, February 25, 2008

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. (Feb. 25, 2008) - The ETSU women's basketball team pressured, attacked and stormed its way to a 12-point victory over Gardner-Webb 88-76 Monday night inside Paul Porter Arena. The win locked up a number one seed for the Lady Bucs in next month's Atlantic Sun Tournament as well as guaranteeing ETSU at least a share of the conference crown.


With the victory, the Lady Buccaneers improved to 17-11, 13-2 in A-Sun play, while Gardner-Webb saw its record fall to 12-15, 8-6. ETSU has now won four straight, 11 of its last 12, and will be bringing home a regular season conference title back to Johnson City for the first time since head coach Karen Kemp took over the reigns in 1994-95.


The Lady Bucs received a lot of help from their starters Monday night as all five scored in double figures, including senior Nichelle Akers' (Sumter, S.C.) season-high 13-point performance. Sophomore Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) poured in a game-high 18, Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) added 17, TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) pitched in 16 and senior Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) rounded things out with 14. Gardner-Webb's Dominique Hudson ended with a team-high 15 points in the losing effort.


After being upset at home a month and half ago by the Runnin' Bulldogs, the Lady Bucs wanted to come out early and make a statement. ETSU did just that as they opened up forcing GWU to turn the ball over four times in the opening four minutes, resulting in a 10-2 advantage. Four of the five starters scored for the Lady Buccaneers as they netted six points off those miscues. From there, Belcher pushed ETSU's lead into double figures, 15-4, when she converted on a three-point play at the 15:21 mark. The Lady Buccaneer intensity on the defensive end continued as they forced GWU into 13 turnovers with less than 10 minutes coming off the clock and led 27-11. Gardner-Webb never had an answer for ETSU's charge as the Lady Buccaneers saw their lead balloon to 20 on six different possessions, the last being 54-34, when Belcher hit a jumper with 43 seconds left before half.


The Lady Buccaneers were plain amazing after the first 20 minutes. ETSU shot 50 percent (21-42) from the floor, forced G-Webb into 20 turnovers and out-rebounded them 21-14. The pressure defense from the Lady Bucs worked as they scored 20 points off those Runnin' Bulldog mistakes and tallied 10 steals as well. Ironically, Gardner-Webb was also 50 percent from the floor (13-26), but went 0-for-4 from behind the arc and grabbed only one offensive rebound. On the other hand, ETSU grabbed nine boards on the offensive end and converted those into 15 second-chance points. Four Lady Buc players reached double figures in scoring with Evans leading the way at 13, and Margaret Roundtree lifted GWU with eight.


In the second half, ETSU let Gardner-Webb creep back into the contest with a 14-6 run over the first six and a half minutes. The Runnin' Bulldogs got to within 10 during the spurt, 60-50, when LaTroya Pope hit a jumper with 13:23 left on the clock. Then, with ETSU leading 64-54, the Lady Buccaneers posted a 9-0 run over the next two minutes and thirty seconds to go back up 19, 73-54. Evans would give ETSU its largest lead of the night 79-58, but that did not last long. Gardner-Webb made things interesting by going on an 18-4 spurt to get to within seven, 83-76, but ETSU had enough gas in its tank to come away with another conference victory.


As a team, the Lady Buccaneers shot 45.1 percent for the game (32-71) and Gardner-Webb was a tad better with its 46.7 clip (28-60). ETSU forced 28 turnovers on the night and converted them into 27 points. Wiles and Belcher combined for eight of the Lady Bucs' 18 steals as they each had four apiece. The Lady Bucs finished with a plus-three advantage on the boards, 41-38. Again it was Belcher and Wiles leading in the category with eight.


ETSU closes out its regular season slate this Saturday when they face USC Upstate. Tip is set for 1 p.m. inside the G.B. Hodge Center. The Lady Buccaneers defeated the Spartans by 41, 96-55, back on Jan. 5 in the A-Sun opener and ETSU will be gunning an outright conference title.


For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit