Clutch free throw shooting lifts Lady Bucs past Jacksonville, 77-72
Monday, December 21, 2009

Evans, Davis combine to go 18-for-18 at the charity stripe


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2009) - It wasn't pretty, but in the end the Lady Bucs got the statistic that means the most - a victory.

Despite turning the ball over 28 times and shooting 2-for-16 from beyond the arc, the ETSU women's basketball team battled past a stingy Jacksonville club by hitting 27 of its 30 free throw attempts en route to 77-72 Atlantic Sun Conference victory on Monday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.

Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) - who was only playing at 70 percent with a sore right knee - pulled through the pain to record her sixth straight double-double on the year. Evans, the league's preseason player of the year, finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds; however, it was her perfect 10-for-10 showing at the free throw line that helped carry the Blue and Gold to victory. Joining Evans in double figures was fellow senior TaRonda Wiles' (Danville, Va.) 21-point, 5-rebound effort.

With the win, ETSU improved to 4-4, 2-0 in Atlantic Sun play; while Jacksonville dropped to 1-8, 0-2.

"Anytime you are playing at home, you need to step up your game and win," commented head coach Karen Kemp, who saw her Lady Bucs improve to 10-1 lifetime over the Dolphins. "It's really important to protect your home floor, so this win was key for our team. However, if we don't step up our game defensively, we won't a lot of ball games. Right now we are just trying to outscore teams and not playing well on the defensive end."

After shooting a season-low 56-percent at the free throw line in its five-point loss at Appalachian State last Thursday night, ETSU stepped up and won the game there tonight. The Lady Bucs sank 10 straight free throws in the final 2 minutes, 29 seconds to remain perfect in conference play. ETSU set season bests with its 27 made free throws and 90.0 percentage clip at the charity stripe.


"Since the Appalachian game every player probably put up 500 free throws," commented Kemp. "The team wasn't happy coming in and putting up 100 attempts every day, but it made a difference tonight."


With ETSU leading by six at the break (38-32), both teams started the second half trading baskets until Jacksonville tied the game at 54-all after Desarae Johnson made a jumper with eight minutes remaining in the contest.


Jacksonville never managed to take the lead following that jumper, but the Dolphins hung around until ETSU moved its three-point lead back up to seven, 67-60, when Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) connected on two of her eight free throw makes with 4:26 showing on the clock. The Dolphins continued to fight their way back into the contest, and made it a three-point affair, 69-66, following Abril Peoples' jumper with 46 ticks remaining. Fortunately, for the Lady Bucs, they learned from their mistakes in Boone and sank eight consecutive free throw shots in the closing 32 seconds to secure the victory.


For the game, ETSU shot 39.3 percent from field (24-61) and 12.5 percent from beyond the arc. Jacksonville managed to shoot a tad better than the Lady Bucs (40 percent), but six missed free throws (12-18) proved to be the difference maker. Both teams combined the turn the ball over 54 times; however the Lady Bucs turned 26 Dolphin turnovers into 21 points whereas the visitors only converted 17 points on the 28 ETSU miscues.


Joining Evans and Wiles in double figures were Davis and sophomore Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.). Davis finished with 10 points, four rebounds, and six assists; while Washington netted 16 points and five rebounds.


In the first half, the Lady Bucs jumped out to a hot start thanks to a 50-percent shooting clip in the opening six minutes, as ETSU grabbed an early 14-6 lead, forcing Jacksonville to burn a 30-second timeout at the 14:11 mark. The Lady Bucs got careless with the ball over the next eight minutes, and Jacksonville capitalized on the miscues by regaining a 26-25 advantage after Courtney Jackson nailed a 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 3 seconds remaining before the break. ETSU coughed the ball up seven times during the stretch, and the Dolphins used a 20-9 run to recapture the lead. From there, both teams traded buckets, until the Lady Bucs used a 9-3 spurt to end the final three minutes of the half, and took a 38-32 lead into the locker room.


ETSU dominated in the paint as the Lady Bucs held a 22-8 margin in that category; however, the long range shot was not kind to the Blue and Gold in the opening 20 minutes. After Evans began the game with a 3-pointer at the 19:27 mark, ETSU missed its final eight attempts from beyond the arc. Jacksonville's bench took over in the first half - holding a 17-3 advantage - with Jackson accounting for 12 of those points.


Jackson scored a game-high 24 points off the bench, and Johnson added 21 points and seven rebounds in the loss.


Prior to the game Wiles was given a special game ball, after becoming the 17th Lady Buccaneer player to reach the 1,000-point club back on Nov. 22 at Arkansas. Following Wiles' 21-point effort tonight, she ranks 14th all-time with 1,103 points.


The Lady Bucs return to action on Monday, Dec. 28, when ETSU travels to the Music City for a showdown with nationally ranked Vanderbilt. Tip is set for 8 p.m. (Eastern) inside Memorial Gymnasium.


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