BUIES CREEK, N.C. (Feb. 19, 2009) - The second time around is always more difficult.
After beating Campbell by 30 last month in Johnson City, the ETSU women's basketball team had a much tougher time with the Lady Camels on their home floor; however, the Lady Bucs were able to survive and pull out a 72-64 victory Thursday night inside the John W. Pope Convocation Center.
Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) posted her fourth straight game with a double-double - ending with 24 points and 10 rebounds - both marking game highs. Also scoring in double figures for the Lady Bucs were fellow juniors Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) and TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.). Belcher finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Wiles recorded 16 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
With the win, ETSU has now compiled three straight road victories and improved its record to 16-9, 14-3 in the A-Sun. Meanwhile, Campbell has now lost all eight games in the series against the Lady Bucs, and dropped to 10-16, 3-14. More importantly, ETSU kept pace with Florida Gulf Coast for a regular season championship, as the Eagles pulled off a 57-48 victory over UNF in Jacksonville. ETSU trails FGCU by a half-game in the league standings, and the Lady Bucs still own a two-game lead over Jacksonville for the number one seed in next month's conference tournament.
In the first half, the Lady Bucs got off to a quick start thanks to hot 3-point shooting and strong post play by Belcher. ETSU's second trey of the night at the 16:44 mark forced the Lady Camels to burn a 30-second timeout, as the Lady Bucs led 13-5 after Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) nailed a three-pointer from the corner.
ETSU was able to push its lead to 10, 15-5, but from there the Lady Bucs became careless with the rock.
Campbell forced ETSU into four turnovers from the 15:35 mark to 12:26 left in the half and tied the game at 15-all. Fortunately, Wiles snapped the drought and bailed out the Lady Bucs, as her desperation 3-pointer from NBA range dropped in as the shot clock expired, giving ETSU an 18-15 advantage with 11:48 left on the game clock.
From there Evans heated up and gave ETSU a spark.
With the Lady Camels leading 19-18, the Griffin, Ga. native went off for seven of ETSU's next 12 points and put the Lady Bucs back up, 30-23, with less than seven minutes to go before the break. Wiles would push the ETSU lead back into double figures on two straight possessions after sinking a 3-pointer at the top of the key and her jumper at the 4:32 mark made it a 35-25 contest.
Campbell was able to hang around for the final minutes of half, but Evans continued to impress. Her off-balance jumper with seven seconds left gave ETSU a 40-31 lead. The score remained the same as both teams went into their respective locker rooms.
Evans was on fire in the first 20 minutes, as she hit 6 of her 7 shot attempts and led all scorers with 17 points. Both teams shot the ball well - with the Lady Bucs posting a 50-percent clip (14-28) - and Campbell finishing 14-of-29 (48.3 percent). The Lady Bucs drained six threes and went 6-of-7 from the free throw line, compared to Campbell's 2-for-4 showing from long range and 1-of-2 clip at the charity stripe. On the flip side, neither team handled the ball well as they combined for 23 turnovers, but Campbell's bench kept things close by outscoring ETSU - 24 to 2 - thanks to Gara Bell netting eight points.
The Lady Bucs stormed out the gates to start the second half and saw their lead grow to 14, 47-33, after Belcher's lay-in at the 17:47 mark, forcing Campbell again to burn a 30-second timeout.
ETSU's lead stood in double figures for the next seven minutes, but Lynisha Ochogu's lay-in at the 10:38 mark cut the Campbell deficit to eight, 56-48, forcing the Lady Bucs to burn another 30-second timeout.
Again Evans stepped up when her team needed it and gave ETSU a shot in the arm. Evans nailed a 3-pointer on the next Lady Buccaneer possession - putting ETSU back ahead, 59-48, with less than 10 minutes to play. Then, after Campbell lowered it back to nine on two different possessions, Wiles found Evans open at the free throw line, and the junior preseason all-conference selection drove it home to make it an 11-point Lady Buccaneer advantage, 64-53, with 7:17 left on the clock.
However, Campbell never let up and eventually got to within six on three different possessions in the game, but the Lady Camels couldn't inch any closer.
The Lady Camels had chances to tighten the gap, but key rebounding by the Lady Bucs helped them come away with their third straight road victory.
For the game, ETSU shot 49.1 percent (26-53) from the floor, compared to Campbell's 26-of-54 showing (48.1 percent). Once again the Lady Bucs won the rebounding battle - 36 to 27 - and scored 14 second-chance points off 12 offensive boards. ETSU sank eight 3-pointers, but struggled from the free throw line - especially late in the game - and finished 12-of-20 for the contest. The ETSU bench was quiet again as they were outscored 39-2 - with Devin Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) scoring the lone two points.
Campbell had three players score in double figures, as Ochogu led the pack with 16 points.
The Lady Bucs wrap up their four-game conference road trip on Monday night when they face USC Upstate. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside the G.B. Hodge Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.