Strong first half, Evans' double duty lead Lady Bucs past Kennesaw, 73-66
Thursday, February 26, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 26, 2009) - Typically it has been the second half where the Lady Bucs dominate this season, but on Thursday night it was the exact opposite.


Junior guard Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) posted her sixth straight double-double and a 41-point first half performance was just enough to hold off a physical and scrappy Kennesaw State team 73-66 inside Memorial Center.


Evans finished the game with 26 points, 12 rebounds and a career-tying six steals. Now in seven games this month the Griffin, Ga. native has averaged 21.4 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.4 steals in 34.6 minutes of work.


The win marked ETSU's fifth straight and moved the Lady Bucs into a tie for first-place with Florida Gulf Coast (currently in progress at Campbell). ETSU pushed its record to 18-9, 16-3 in A-Sun, while Kennesaw State had its four-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 15-13, 11-8. Should FGCU win at Campbell, the Lady Bucs need to win Saturday afternoon against Mercer to earn a share of the regular season crown.  


"We came out focused and ready to play early on," commented head coach Karen Kemp, whose team knocked off Kennesaw State for the seventh straight time. "When we were down there in mid-December, we didn't feel like we played well, so our focus was to come out and take control early. Hopefully we can continue to take command like that during the rest of this season."


"Siarre is such a winner and competitor," added Kemp. "Every night she steps out on the floor she is going to give it everything she has. After our win at Upstate the other night, I told the team Siarre put them on her back and she is capable of doing so at any given moment. In my mind she is the best player in the league."


Scoring is what Evans did early as the Lady Bucs grabbed the opening tip and she drove in for the first two points of the game. After that bucket, ETSU held the momentum by limiting Kennesaw State to only one field goal for the first nine minutes and thirty-three seconds of the game, and the Lady Bucs took a 20-3 advantage after Evans nailed a 3-pointer with 10:27 to play in the half.  


However, Kennesaw found some rhythm, as the Owls clipped the deficit to 11, 24-13, after Greteya Kelley's lay-up with 8:20 on the clock. Fortunately, the Lady Bucs responded and Evans' third trey of the half put ETSU ahead 14, and Gwen Washington's (Manassas, Va.) jumper three minutes and fifteen seconds later pushed the Lady Buccaneer advantage back to 17, 35-18, with 4:45 to play in the first half.


But once again Kennesaw continued to fight and claw its way back into the contest, as DeAndrea Bullock's free throw at the 1:10 mark lowered the ETSU lead to nine, 37-28, and the Lady Bucs went into their locker room with a 10-point lead (41-31).


ETSU shot 41.0 percent for the half (16-39) and went 6-of-8 from the free throw line, compared to the Owls' 27.5 shooting clip and 7-for-13 showing at the charity stripe. The Lady Bucs did an excellent job with their ball control in the first 20 minutes, as they only turned the ball over five times; however, ETSU gave Kennesaw State too many second chances. Fourteen of the Owls' 31 rebounds came on the offensive end and Kennesaw posted 11 second-chance points.


The Lady Bucs looked to have things under control to start the first four minutes of the second half when Washington's 3-pointer put ETSU up 16, 51-35, but the Owls quickly cut it down to seven (57-50) thanks to Kelley's lay-up at the 10:56 mark.


Then, with less than four minutes to play, Jennifer Baker would pull Kennesaw State to within six (65-59) after she sank two free throws, but Evans moved the Lady Buccaneer lead back to eight with 2:52 to play.


Again, the Owls didn't fold and made it a 67-61 contest, but a key offensive rebound by Shannon White (Kansas City, Kan.) with 1:46 to play proved to be the difference maker.


After the offensive rebound, sophomore point guard Kami Phillips (Augusta, Ga.) was fouled and her two freebies gave ETSU a 69-61 advantage with 1:21 left in the contest. Baker converted a three-point play with 49 ticks left, pulling the Owl deficit to five, but ETSU went 4-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final 40 seconds of play to secure the victory.  


For the game, ETSU shot 34.2 percent (26-76) and finished only 4-of-20 from beyond the arc (20 percent). The Owls, who shot 48.1 percent in the second half, moved their shooting percentage up to 35.8 for the contest (24-67). ETSU forced Kennesaw into 21 turnovers and converted them into 20 points; however, the Lady Bucs were out-rebounded 54 to 52.


To go along with Evans' stellar play, junior post Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) ended with 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals in 32 minutes of action. Washington also scored in double figures - finishing with 11 points (4-for-4 from the free throw line) and three rebounds.


Kennesaw State was led by Kelley's 18 points, but Montinique Nixon had an outstanding night as she posted 14 points and 16 rebounds.


The Lady Bucs close out regular season play on Saturday afternoon when they host Mercer. Tip time is set for 1:30 p.m.


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