NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 21, 2008) - Last season the ETSU women's basketball team came back from Nashville winless; however, on Monday the Lady Bucs will make the trip back to Johnson City seem that much sweeter after defeating Belmont, 73-63, inside the Curb Event Center.
With the win, ETSU snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bruins and improved to 8-10, 4-1 in the Atlantic Sun. Belmont suffered its first conference loss at home and fell to 9-9, 3-2. More importantly the Lady Bucs move into a tie for second-place in the conference standings.
ETSU was led by sophomore sensation Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) as she scored a game-high 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists and forced two steals in 34 minutes of work. Two other Lady Buccaneer stars reached double figures in scoring with TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) adding 14 (on 6-of-8 shooting), and senior Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) netted 13, including a perfect 3-for-3 from long range. Belmont was led by Jessica Bobbitt and Brooke Sunday's 17-point efforts in defeat.
"To leave Nashville with two road wins is very important," mentioned head coach Karen Kemp, who now has 32 regular season wins in the Atlantic Sun. "I am proud of how we played and responded when Belmont continued to put pressure on us. We finally made critical stops down the stretch and were able to hit our free throws; which in the end gave us the opportunity to walk away with the victory."
The Lady Bucs began the contest working the ball down low as six of their first nine points were lay-ups and took a two-point advantage into the first media timeout at the 15:11 mark. From there, ETSU pushed its lead to nine, 16-7, when Evans found Kami Phillips (Augusta, Ga.) open for a fast break lay-up, forcing the Bruins to call a timeout with 12:27 on the clock. ETSU enjoyed the strong start, going 7-of-14 (50 percent); while Belmont was only 3-for-13 (23.1 percent). A DeVault three gave the Lady Bucs their largest lead of the half, 21-11, but an 11-6 run by Belmont quickly lowered it to 27-22 with 5:11 left before the break. The game remained close during the final five minutes and ETSU led 34-30 at halftime.
For the half, ETSU shot 48.3 percent (14-29) and Belmont was held to a 35.7 shooting clip (10-28). The Lady Bucs were on fire from beyond the arc, going 4-of-6 (66.7 percent) compared to Belmont's 3-of-9 showing (33.3 percent). The only stat line where the Bruins held an upper hand in was at the free throw line. Belmont hit all seven freebies, while ETSU hit 50 percent (2-of-4). The Lady Buccaneers did a solid job in transition as they outscored the host team, 10-0, in the first 20 minutes. Bobbitt led all scorers at the break with 10, and Evans pitched in a team-high seven points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out four of ETSU's 10 assists.
Belmont began the second half clipping ETSU's lead to one, 41-40, with 15:04 left in the contest. Fouls forced coach Kemp to use her bench as she lost two of her starters in Evans and Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) with three, along with Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.). The personal fouls continued to ring up, but this time ETSU benefited from them as they were in the bonus at the 12:25 mark of the half. DeVault's two free throws gave the Lady Buccaneers a seven-point margin, 49-42, with eight and half minutes to go.
The Bruins would cut the deficit to two, 56-54, but ETSU responded when DeVault's third trey of the game put the Lady Bucs up six, 60-54, with 6:18 left on the clock. However, Belmont continued to stay in the contest when Bobbitt's three-point play lowered the lead to 62-59. Finally, ETSU stood its ground and never gave the Bruins a chance to claw back into the game as the Lady Bucs outscored Belmont, 11-4, in the final four and a half minutes to pick up an important conference road win.
The Lady Buccaneers shot 43.6 percent (24-55) for the game and held the Bruins to a 35.8 percentage (19-53). ETSU out-rebounded Belmont by 11, 41-30, and (Latisha) Belcher grabbed a team-best eight boards (five offensive). The Lady Bucs shot 5-of-10 from beyond the arc and nailed 74 percent (20-27) of their freebies. DeVault, Wiles and Norman combined to go 10-for-10 at the charity stripe. Phillips dished out five of the 13 Lady Buc assists.
ETSU will now make a quick visit back to Memorial Center Friday night before heading down for a critical A-Sun showdown with conference leader Jacksonville next Monday. The Lady Bucs will face North Florida Friday night at 7 p.m.
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