TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (Jan. 2, 2008) - The East Tennessee State women's basketball team out-scored Alabama 21-8 over the final 10 minutes to secure themselves its first road win of the season, by knocking off the SEC challenger 73-62 Wednesday night from the Coleman Coliseum.
The Lady Buccaneer win snapped a four-game losing streak and ETSU improved to 4-7 overall; while the Crimson Tide saw their three-game win streak end and fall to 6-8.
A total team effort lifted ETSU to its first road victory since defeating North Florida last Feb. 17, as 11 of the 12 Lady Buccaneer players that saw action reached the scoring column. Sophomore Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) has now scored double figures in 10 of the first 11 ETSU contests on the season, finishing with a game-high 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Freshman Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) ended with career bests scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds in 23 minutes of work. However, the story of the night came from a pair of Virginia natives in Latisha Belcher (Martinsville) and TaRonda Wiles (Danville). Belcher, who started her first-ever game as a Lady Buccaneer, finished the affair with 11 points, six rebounds, and forced a career-high five steals. Wiles played 30 minutes for ETSU and scored six points, but came away with career-best 10 rebounds.
"I am very proud of how our girls played tonight; especially by keeping their composure when Alabama took the lead and answering with the (10-0) run," said head ETSU women's basketball coach Karen Kemp, who picked up her second win over an SEC program in the last three seasons. "It's great to finally pick up a road win. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going and start a winning streak heading into conference play."
Despite letting Alabama begin the contest scoring the first seven points in the opening three-plus minutes, ETSU would end up controlling the rest of the half thanks to the hot hand of Evans. The sophomore guard scored seven of the first nine Lady Buccaneer points and clipped the Tide advantage to one, 10-9 with 14:27 on the clock. From there, Belcher's lay-in at the 11:28 mark gave ETSU its first lead which they would never relinquish for the half. A pair of free throws from Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) gave the Lady Bucs their largest lead in the stanza at 39-31 with 1:15 left until the break. ETSU had a chance to extend its margin to double digits, but a Belcher turnover gave the Crimson Tide a little momentum heading into the locker room as they scored the last three points to cut the game to five, 39-34.
The Lady Bucs did an excellent job distributing the basketball, totaling nine assists on their 14 made field goals. ETSU finished the first 20 minutes shooting 46.7 percent (14-30) from the floor, compared to only 36.4 (12-33) by Alabama. Neither team did a stellar job holding onto the ball as both clubs combined for 25 turnovers. However, after struggling from the charity stripe its last two games, ETSU picked up to old form going 8-for-11 (72.7 percent). Evans led all scorers at the break with 13, while Tierney Jenkins netted eight for ‘Bama.
The second half saw Alabama carry its momentum over from the end of the first as Dedrea Magee's three-pointer tied the game at 46, with 13:53 left in the contest. ETSU answered the bomb with a Wiles lay-up, but Magee quickly replied with a lay-in to tie things back up.
Then, with the Crimson Tide leading 54-52 at the 10:05 mark, the Lady Bucs would go on a 10-0 run as they received consecutive lay-ups from Devin Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Sabrina Treakle (Richmond, Va.) and Belcher to regain the advantage, 62-54 with a little less than eight minutes left. Both Thompson and Belcher connected on three-point plays during the blitzing and Belcher got the fun started with a jumper to tie the contest at 54. The Tide would give ETSU one last scare, cutting the deficit to four, 64-60, but the Lady Bucs answered with one final push to close out the game with the 11-point victory.
ETSU finished the contest with a 38.8 percent (26-67) clip from the field, compared to Alabama's slightly better 39.3 shooting percentage (24-61). However, the most important statistic on the evening was the rebounding war. The Crimson Tide entered Wednesday's contest out-rebounding their opponents with a plus-11 margin; however, ETSU quickly lowered that as the Lady Bucs won the battle, 49-38, which included 25 on the offensive end.
Alabama was led by Jenkins' 18 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
The Lady Bucs finally return home to Memorial Center and open Atlantic Sun play on Saturday, Jan. 5 when ETSU tangles with conference newcomer USC Upstate. Tip is set for 1:30 p.m.
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