JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 8, 2008) - Typically the East Tennessee State women's basketball team is golden when taking a lead into halftime; however, Tuesday night Liberty had different plans in store as they knocked off the Lady Buccaneers, 64-60, in a hard fought non-conference battle inside Memorial Center.
Entering Tuesday night's match-up, the Lady Bucs were a perfect 4-0 when leading at the break this season, and with ETSU holding a 30-29 advantage after the first 20 minutes things looked great for the home team. Unfortunately, Liberty would outscore ETSU, 30-25, in the second half to walk away with a four-point road victory.
Liberty, who currently has an RPI of 35 and is receiving votes in the USA Today ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Poll, have now won 11 of its last 12 games to move to 13-2 overall. On the other side, ETSU was searching for its first three-game winning streak this season, but fall to 5-8 after its first 13 contests.
Despite being used in limited action with a foot injury, sophomore guard Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) posted her 31st game scoring in double figures as she ended with a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes of action. Senior Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio), who started the evening needing to score only 12 points to become the 15th Lady Buc player of all-time to reach the 1,000-point plateau, was held to only two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Liberty was led by Megan Frazee's double-double performance, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lady Flames jumped out to a quick 9-0 start less than two minutes into the game as they hit their first four shots. From there, Liberty would extend its lead to 11-2, but ETSU would answer with a 16-4 run. The spurt spanned from the 17 minute mark to a little less than six to go until half, and gave ETSU a three-point cushion, 18-15. Devin Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) gave the Lady Buccaneers their first lead, when freshman point guard Kami Phillips (Augusta, Ga.) found her under the bucket for an easy lay-up and the foul (Thompson would convert the three-point play). After Liberty opened 5-of-6 from the field they eventually went cold, which gave ETSU the chance to get back into the contest as the Lady Bucs held the Lady Flames to only two field goals within the stretch. However, Liberty would heat back up as Allyson Fasnacht's three put the visitors ahead, 27-24, with only 2:53 left before break. Fortunately, ETSU had one final run in them and carried a 30-29 advantage into the locker room; thanks to a late 6-2 run in the final two and half minutes.
ETSU finished the first half shooting 40-percent (12-30) from the field; while Liberty was a little better at 44-percent (11-25). Despite being undersized, the Lady Bucs outscored Liberty, 18-8, in the paint and ETSU's bench bettered the Lady Flames by 11, 15-4. Megan Frazee led all scorers after the first stanza with 11 and TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) and Evans both led the Lady Bucs with six apiece.
Once again Liberty would open the second half just like they did the first to regain control, 38-32, forcing the Lady Bucs to call their second timeout of the game with the 9-2 blitz. From there, the Lady Flames' advantage would hover around the six-to-nine point margin for the next 10 minutes. However, with Liberty leading, 51-46, with six minutes and twenty-three seconds remaining, ETSU would post a 10-2 run over the next four minutes to gain the lead, 56-53, with only 2:37 left in the ballgame. Liberty's Moriah Frazee stopped the run with a lay-up at the 2:30 mark, but Sabrina Treakle's (Richmond, Va.) jumper put ETSU back up three, 58-55, with only two minutes left to play. The only bad thing for the Lady Bucs was they were held to only two points during the rest of the contest, as the Lady Flames closed out the final two minutes scoring nine of the final 11 points of the game in order to walk away with the victory. ETSU had its chances, but missed free throws and wide open three-pointers would not fall for the Lady Buccaneers.
For the game, ETSU shot 39-percent (23-for-59); while Liberty finished at 42.9-percent (24-of-56). Surprisingly, both teams entered the game shooting well from the charity stripe, but combined to end 23-of-37 (62.2 percent). After the Lady Bucs were only out-rebounded by one in the first half, 17-16, Liberty used its height advantage in the final 20 minutes by finishing with 41 rebounds to ETSU's 33.
The Lady Bucs return to conference action when they host Gardner-Webb Saturday afternoon. Tip is slated for 1:30 p.m.
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