Defensive struggles, cold shooting down the stretch doom Lady Bucs in Boone
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mountaineers close out final five and half minutes on 15-3 run, as Lady Bucs held to only one field goal down the stretch


BOONE, N.C. (Dec. 17, 2009) - With senior Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Player of the Year Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) watching on the bench in street clothes, the ETSU women's basketball team needed to pick up its play and rally behind her.

Unfortunately, the Lady Bucs squandered a nine-point second half lead, and defensive struggles along with cold clutch shooting doomed ETSU, as Appalachian State rallied for a 92-87 victory Thursday night inside the Holmes Center.

Evans - who was nursing a sore knee - missed only her second game of her career on Thursday night. In Evans' absence, senior TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) and freshman Iesha Robinson (Martinsburg, W. Va.) stepped up on the offensive end. Wiles recorded her second straight double-double, finishing with a team high 27 points and 10 rebounds; while Robinson - who was making her first collegiate start - posted a career high 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.  

With the loss, ETSU had its two-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 3-4 on season. Appalachian State, meanwhile, picked up its first home win of the year and improved to 4-4.

The effects of a 12-day layoff showed for the Lady Bucs in the opening minutes of the first half, as ETSU missed five of its first seven shots and turned the ball over twice, resulting in an 11-5 Appalachian State lead at the 16:18 mark.

From there the game was closely contested, with six ties and 12 lead changes being recorded over the final 12 minutes, 47 seconds. Both teams had chances to take control of the contest, as Wiles scored seven straight points over a 52-second span, giving the Lady Bucs a 37-32 lead with 5:41 remaining before half. However, Appalachian State's Sam Ramirez returned the favor by netting nine consecutive points in the next 57 seconds - putting the Mountaineers back up 41-39 at the 4:33 mark.

The Mountaineers eventually took at 47-45 advantage into the locker room.

Both squads showcased a lot of offensive output in the first half, as they combined to drain 38 field goals and 12 threes. ETSU was 18-for-41 from the field (43.9 percent) and 7-of-15 from beyond the arc (46.7 percent), compared to Appalachian State going an impressive 20-of-38 (52.6 percent) and 5-for-11 from 3-point land (45.5 percent). The Lady Bucs held a plus-12 margin in rebounding - 27 to 15 - and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points. Appalachian State did most of its work in the paint, where they dominated ETSU - 26 to 12.

Appalachian State's Ashlen Dewart exploded out of the gates to start the second half, as the freshman post scored six of the first 10 points for the Mountaineers - pushing their lead to 57-49 with 15 minutes, 27 seconds left in the contest.

Fortunately, for the Lady Bucs, sophomore Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) came out with some intensity in the second half as well. Washington scored 13 of the first 23 Lady Buccaneer points and put ETSU back ahead, 68-59, after Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) laid one in at the 10:54 mark.

Despite the Lady Bucs being in the double bonus with 10 minutes remaining in the ballgame, ETSU couldn't expand its lead. Eventually the Mountaineers cut their deficit to three, 80-77, when Dewart laid one in with 6:13 showing on the clock.

Again it looked like ETSU was going break away after Robinson converted a four-point-play to give the Lady Bucs an 84-77 lead; however, Appalachian State responded down the stretch. The Mountaineers closed out the final 5 minutes, 47 seconds on a 15-3 run to rally their way past the Blue and Gold.

The Lady Bucs only managed one field goal in the final five and half minutes, while poor free throw shooting also dismantled ETSU. ETSU missed five of its last six free throw attempts - including Davis not connected on a pair with 3:33 remaining and the Lady Bucs trailing by one, 85-84.

For the game, ETSU shot 41.6 percent (32-77) and 37.5 percent from three (9-24). Meanwhile, the Mountaineers were slightly better at 48.6 percent (35-72) and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc (8-18). The Lady Bucs - who entered the night as the best free throw shooting team in the A-Sun at 71.9 percent - finished 14-for-25 (56 percent) and turned the ball over 21 times. ETSU did manage to force 20 turnovers and converted those into 32 points; however, the Mountaineers blocked 11 shots and assisted on 24 of their 35 field goals.

Washington finished with 15 points and five rebounds; while Davis ended with 11 points, six assists and six steals.

ETSU couldn't stop Dewart as she posted a career high 30 points and pulled down a career-tying 14 rebounds to record her third double-double on the year. Ramirez was also clutch, as she finished with 21 points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals.

The 92 points scored by Appalachian State marked a season high (previous best were 79) against Miami (Ohio). This marked the second time this season the Lady Bucs allowed an opponent to score 90-plus points.   

The Lady Bucs return to action on Monday, Dec. 21 when ETSU hosts conference rival Jacksonville. Tip is set for 4:45 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.

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