Lady Bucs face difficult test on season-opening road swing
Friday, November 14, 2008

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Nov. 14, 2008) - Coming off its most historic season in program history, the 2008-09 ETSU women's basketball team is set to turn the page and hit the road for its season opener Saturday evening at Evansville. Tip is set for 5 p.m. EST inside Roberts Stadium.


The Lady Buccaneers are coming off a season where they earned their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament after claiming both Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championship. Along the way, ETSU set school records in points scored (2,478) and rebounds (1,360), as well as tying the all-time single-season wins mark with 21 victories.


However, last season is now in the past and a new year is upon the Lady Bucs, and their opening test will not come easy. First, ETSU takes on co-regular season Missouri Valley Conference Champions, Evansville, and then face SoCon regular season and tournament champion, Chattanooga, on Monday night.


ETSU was able to shake some rust off two weeks ago as they took on University of the Cumberlands in its lone exhibition contest. The Lady Bucs struggled in the opening 20 minutes of play, but ETSU came out focused in the second half to down the Patriots, 82-67, inside Memorial Center. Junior Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) was one of four Lady Buccaneer players to score in double figures - leading the way with a game-high 24 points. Fellow juniors Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) and TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) each chipped in with respectable performances. Belcher posted a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds; while Wiles poured in 14 points in 32 minutes of action. Sophomore Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) contributed with 13 points and accounted for eight of ETSU's 18 steals.


Evansville returns 10 players (three starters) from last year's team who earned a piece of the school's first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title as well as claiming the program's first post-season win. The Purple Aces finished the 2007-08 campaign with a 21-12 overall record, which ranks as the second-highest victory total in the program's 39-year history. However, UE has a new look to its coaching staff as Misty Murphy replaced Tricia Cullop after she took over the reigns at Toledo in April.


Like the Lady Bucs, Evansville also hosted one exhibition as the Purple Aces defeated Oakland City University, 87-56, last Saturday in Roberts Stadium. Preseason all-Missouri Valley Conference center Shannon Novosel led three University of Evansville women's basketball players in double-figures Saturday with 16 points. Sophomore guard Ashlee Barrett also pitched in 13 points and four assists, while junior center Hannah Singleton came off of the bench to pitch in 12 points and two blocks in 12 minutes of action. As a team, UE forced the Mighty Oaks to turn the ball over 26 times and Evansville won the rebounding battle, 48-37.


Fans unable to make the trip north to Evansville can catch all the action live by visiting, Live stats will also be provided by clicking the link above or visiting  


Below are Lady Buccaneer notes for Saturday's game…

ETSU vs. Evansville

ETSU leads the short-lived series, 1-0, with the Lady Bucs defeating the Purple Aces, 77-74, on Nov. 24, 2007 inside Memorial Center. The Lady Bucs were led by the hot-hand of Michele DeVault as she drained a career-high 25 points (7-of-10 shooting) and Kelly Turman's 14 points off the bench helped ETSU overcome a one-point halftime deficit. Evans also pitched in with 10 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes of work.


Let's Get it Started

Tonight marks the 41st season for Lady Buccaneer basketball. ETSU has posted a 21-19 record in their previous 40 season openers. With a victory this evening, the Lady Bucs will make it three wins in their last five regular season openers.


Kemp Eyeing 200

Head coach Karen Kemp enters the 2008-09 season in search of an important milestone … Kemp is currently six wins shy of reaching the 200-win mark … over the last three seasons Kemp has posted 59 victories and the Lady Bucs are in search of their first-ever fourth consecutive winning season … Kemp currently has posted a program-best 194 victories in her career.


Countdown to 1,000

Junior Siarre Evans has built an impressive resume over her first two seasons as a Lady Buc … the Griffin, Ga. native was named Atlantic Sun  Freshman of the Year, First Team All-Conference and Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team in her rookie season, and last season the sophomore was named First Team All-Conference and Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team … Evans enters this season only 184 points shy of becoming the 16th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau … the junior guard/forward was also a unanimous selection the 2008-09 Preseason All-Conference Team.


Lady Bucs Tabbed the A-Sun Favorite

For the first time since joining the Atlantic Sun Conference, the ETSU Lady Bucs were selected the league favorite in both the coaches and media polls … ETSU is also looking to become the first team since Georgia State (2001-03) to repeat as conference champions.


Calling all Seniors?

ETSU's rosters consists of four juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen, however, the Lady Bucs do not have a single senior on their team … the Lady Bucs are one of two team in the Atlantic Sun to not post at least one senior on their roster, with the other team being Florida Gulf Coast.


The Schedule of all Schedules

When fans look at ETSU's 2008-09 regular season slate they may be asking themselves what coach Kemp was thinking, as the Lady Bucs' schedule features seven teams who appeared in postseason play a year ago … ETSU hosts 12th-ranked and SEC favorite Vanderbilt, and travels to Evansville (WNIT participant), Chattanooga (NCAA participant), Georgia (NCAA participant), Kentucky (WNIT participant), Liberty (NCAA participant) and Florida Gulf Coast (WNIT participant) … of the Lady Bucs' eight non-conference opponents, six of them played in the postseason last year.



New Season, New Faces

With a new season upon us the Lady Buccaneer family has some new faces, as coach Kemp brought in four new players and two coaches to her staff. Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.), Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.), Shannon White (Kansas City, Kan.) and Natasha Dixon (Brooklyn, N.Y.) are the four new ETSU players, while Josh Wick and Kelvin Long are the newly acquired coaches to Kemp's staff. Wick comes to Johnson City after being an assistant at UNLV in 2007-08, and spent four years at North Carolina; while Long - who is not a new face to the Lady Bucs after being Kemp's graduate manager a year ago - took over as a new assistant in August.


Hoosier Note

The ETSU women's basketball team is entering unfamiliar territory with its visit to Evansville on Saturday afternoon. The Lady Bucs have only made one trip to the Hoosier state prior to this weekend's trip, as ETSU played in the 1998 Indiana Univesity Full-O-Pep Classic. There, the Lady Bucs

went winless (0-2) by falling to Saint Louis and host Indiana. In its program history, ETSU is 2-2 lifetime against teams from the Hoosier State. The Lady Bucs defeated Evansville (last season), and Indiana State (1981) and fell to Indiana and Ball State (1997).  


Home Court Advantage

The Lady Bucs have won 29 of their last 37 home games; including 23 of their last 27 conference home contents … ETSU carries a six-game home winning streak into the 2008-09 season … throughout that six-game win streak, the Lady Buccaneers defeated the opposition by over 23 points (81.5 to 58.3) and forced the opponents into 24 turnovers as well.


Making History

The Lady Bucs made history last season as they went on a roll and won the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championships - resulting in their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. ETSU also set team records for most points scored in a season (2,478), rebounds (1,360), steals in a single-game (24, vs. Campbell), and tied program records for single-season wins (21) and consecutive wins in a season (8).


Chasing History

With ETSU being tabbed the conference favorite; the Lady Bucs will now venture out and look to become the first team since Georgia State (2001-03) to repeat as conference champions. By claiming the 2008 A-Sun Championship, the Lady Buccaneers became the fifth straight team to win its first-ever conference crown. In addition, ETSU is also looking to become the first team in school history to post its fourth consecutive winning season.


Belcher's Seeing Double

Last season Latisha Belcher posted three double-doubles in 33 games, and the junior post quickly carried the success over into this campaign as she posted a double-double effort in the Lady Bucs' lone exhibition game against Cumberlands. Belcher finished the night with 11 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes versus the Patriots. The Martinsville native and 2008 Atlantic Sun Tournament MVP averaged 12.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.0 steals since joining the starting line up on Jan. 2 at Alabama last year.


Wiles Watch

Junior guard/forward TaRonda Wiles enjoyed a break-out season as a sophomore. The versatile player nearly doubled her output in every statistical category and looks to carry the momentum into her third season as a Lady Buc. Wiles played in all 33 games (started 32) and averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 27.3 minutes a year ago. The Danville, Va. native was also one of four ETSU players to be named to the Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team in Nashville.



Siarre's Soaring

For the second straight year Siarre Evans was named to the Preseason All-Conference Team. In her first two years, the Griffin, Ga. native has also received First Team All-Conference honors and has positioned herself as one of the top players in the league. The junior guard has played in 64 games (starting 61) since arriving on campus and is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds her first two seasons. Evans also has an outside shot of becoming only the third player in Lady Buccaneer history to record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, as she is 184 points shy of reaching the 1,000-point club and 540 rebounds short of eclipsing the 1,000 rebound mark.


Pack the House

The Lady Bucs will look to "Pack the House" on Friday, Nov. 21, when ETSU hosts 12th ranked Vanderbilt in its home opener. ETSU tries to break the attendance record - which was set at 1,236 - when the Lady Buccaneers defeated Kennesaw State, 81-77, on Feb. 2, 2008.


A Look Ahead

Following the trip north, the Lady Bucs continue on their difficult season-opening trip as they head back South to take on longtime in-state rival Chattanooga on Monday. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside McKenzie Arena. ETSU will look to avenge last year's heartbreaking one-point loss, and spoil the Lady Mocs' season opener.


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