Lady Bucs rally past Kennesaw State in front of record setting crowd, 81-77
Saturday, February 2, 2008

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 2, 2008) - It was a second half to remember for the ETSU women's basketball team as they shot 70.4 percent from the field and outscored Kennesaw State by 11, (47-36) as the Lady Bucs rallied past the Lady Owls, 81-77, in front of a record setting crowd of 1,236 fans Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Center.


ETSU remains on fire with the victory as they have won a season-high five consecutive games and improve to 11-10, 7-1 in the Atlantic Sun. With the win, the Lady Buccaneers remain in a battle with Jacksonville for the top spot in the league, as the Dolphins defeated Gardner-Webb 84-53. Kennesaw State falls to 10-10, 5-3 in conference play and had its three-game win streak come to an end.


Four Lady Buccaneer players reached double figures in scoring, but it was the combination of strong post play and a little Georgia connection that helped guide ETSU to an important conference victory.


Senior Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.) was red-hot Saturday as she finished with 18 points (9-of-11 shooting), five rebounds, and a career-high six blocks; while sophomore Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) posted her 14th career double-double (sixth this season). Evans netted 17 points (13 in the second half), grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and dished out four assists. Post player Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) also joined in on the fun, finishing with 10 points and seven boards. Rounding out the scoring attack for the Lady Buccaneers was senior Michele DeVault's (Columbus, Ohio) 10-point effort. Jennifer Baker led all players with 20 points in the losing effort.


"I was very pleased with our second half effort," added head coach Karen Kemp, whose club has won seven of its first eight conference games. "Jenny (Norman) gave us a huge lift off the bench tonight as she did an excellent job scoring and blocked some key shots down the stretch.  


After shooting only 39 percent in the first frame, the Lady Buccaneers heated up and quickly cut their seven-point halftime deficit to three, 45-42, when senior Kelly Turman (Atlanta) hit a jumper with 16 minutes left in the contest. Then, with 15:15 remaining in the game, ETSU went on a 12-2 run to regain its lead, 54-50, when Kami Phillips (Augusta, Ga.) drove in a for a lay-up; giving the Lady Bucs their first lead since 32-31 in the first half.


The Lady Owls answered and took a 57-56 advantage on DeAndrea Bullock's three-pointer, but a pair of free throws by Evans at the 9:01 mark gave ETSU a one-point lead and they would never trail from there. ETSU pushed its lead to eight, 72-64, when TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) found Evans open for three in the left corner with 5:45 left on the clock. However, KSU would not go away as they inched back to within three on two separate occasions, but the Lady Bucs did just enough to muster up a four-point home victory.


The Lady Bucs shot a season-high 53.3 percent (32-60) from the field and only missed eight shots (19-of-27) in the final 20 minutes of the ballgame. ETSU limited Kennesaw to a 28 percent clip in the second stanza, forcing the Lady Owls to shoot 36.1 percent (26-72) for the contest. The Lady Bucs did most of their work in the paint as they outscored KSU, 44-24, and ETSU's bench also doubled up the Lady Owls, 28-14. ETSU posted a 50-plus shooting mark for the first time since they hit 54 percent of its shots against Jacksonville in the A-Sun semifinals (March 9, 2007). Wiles led ETSU with five of its 19 assists, and the Virginia native also pitched in with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting.


In the first half, it looked like the Lady Buccaneers would run away with the game early as they opened the first six minutes on a 16-4 run. ETSU used second chance points to guide the spurt, with the Lady Bucs scoring nine points on eight offensive rebounds during the span. However, Kennesaw State chipped away at the 12-point lead. With ETSU leading, 23-13, the Lady Owls scored 14 unanswered points to regain a four-point advantage, 27-23, at the 6:27 mark.


Then the game remained tight as there were four lead changes and one tie during the final six and half minutes. Unfortunately, for the Lady Buccaneers their defense collapsed during last 2:50 of the half, because Kennesaw State would take its largest lead of the game into the locker room with an 8-2 run. The Lady Owls held ETSU without a field goal for the final three minutes and fourteen seconds to lead 41-34 at the break.


During the first 20 minutes, Kennesaw State out-shot ETSU, 45.5 percent (15-33) to 39. 4 percent (13-33). After holding KSU without any second chance points in the first 13 minutes, the Lady Owls closed out the half with 13 unanswered points. Baker led all scorers with 13; while Norman chipped in 10 for ETSU.


ETSU will close out its two-game homestand by hosting Mercer Monday evening. Tip is slated for 7 p.m. inside Memorial Center.


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