BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (Nov. 9, 2007) - Siarre Evans' (Griffin, Ga.) 22-point, 10-rebound performance was not enough to lift ETSU past Western Kentucky, as the Lady Toppers downed the Lady Bucs, 90-73, in the first round of the Preseason WNIT Friday evening from E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Lady Bucs had two more players score in double figures, along with Evans' ninth career double-double effort. Senior Michele DeVault (Columbus, Ohio) chipped in with 14, while fellow senior guard Kelly Turman (Atlanta, Ga.) netted 10. Sophomore Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) also enjoyed a solid game, finishing with nine points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. Western Kentucky saw four score double figures, as they were led by Kenzie Rich's game-high 23-point effort.
In the first half, ETSU (0-1) had two of its starters pick up two fouls each in the first two minutes, but the Lady Bucs hung around with the Lady Toppers as they led, 9-8, at the 15:41 mark. Both Jenny Norman (Peachtree City, Ga.) and Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) picked up two quick calls. Unfortunately, the unforced errors pushed the Lady Bucs out of rhythm, as Western Kentucky used a 22-9 run during the next eight minutes and twenty-one seconds, giving them a 30-18 lead. ETSU would quickly quiet the storm thanks to two buckets by Devin Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and one by Belcher. The Bucs would narrow the 12-point advantage to five; however, the Lady Toppers regained composure and took a 13-point lead into the break, 46-33.
Evans scored 12 of her 22 points in the first half, and tied Western Kentucky's Dominique Duck for the game-high at the break. Hot shooting gave the Lady Toppers the upper hand, as they out shot ETSU, 58.6 (17-29) to 35.1 percent (13-37). The Lady Bucs received a lift from their bench, thanks to help from Thompson, Turman and Belcher. ETSU's bench outscored Western Kentucky, 13-6, during the first 20 minutes.
Western Kentucky (1-0) came out of the beak and scored eight points in less than a minute and a half, which proved to be too costly for ETSU. The Lady Bucs still showed heart and determination as ETSU would chip away at the lead, lowering the 23-point margin to 12 at the 6:42 mark, and 14 points twice. However, the Lady Toppers had answers for each Lady Buccaneer run, and walked away with the 17-point victory.
DeVault gave the Lady Bucs a huge lift in the final 20 minutes of the contest, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the second frame. The Columbus, Ohio native went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the second half.
For the game, WKU shot 53.6 percent (30-56) from the field, compared to 37.5 percent (27-72) by ETSU. The Lady Bucs did force 22 Lady Topper turnovers which led to 24 points on the other end, and outscored WKU's bench, 26-12. Despite being out-rebounded, 45-39, ETSU won the battle on the offensive end, grabbing 18 boards to 14 by the Lady Toppers. Evans finished with six offensive rebounds for the contest.
The Lady Bucs will now have to wait and see who and where they will play in the consolation round of the WNIT. The winning teams of the tournament advance to the championship bracket; while the losing teams will be placed in two four-team pods which will be played on Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17. Please visit www.ETSUBucs.com to find out where and whom the Lady Buccaneers will be playing next weekend.