Lady Bucs oust Ospreys in Atlantic Sun opener, 82-54
Saturday, December 5, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 5, 2009) - The Lady Bucs have been scoring in bunches their last two games.


ETSU had four players score in double figures and out-rebounded North Florida 54-29, as the Lady Bucs cruised their way to an 82-54 victory in their Atlantic Sun Conference opener on Saturday afternoon inside the Memorial Center.


A crowd of 3,005 people braved the cold and snowy weather to come out and enjoy "Family Day" activities, and after seeing John Waller perform for over an hour, the Lady Buccaneer faithful witnessed ETSU move its mark to .500 (3-3, 1-0 A-Sun). The Ospreys have now lost six of their first seven games to start the season and dropped to 0-2 in league play. Following the game, the Lady Bucs rewarded the children in attendance with a free basketball and cheerleading clinic on the court. 


Senior Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year selection Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) led the way - posting her fifth straight double-double (21 points and 14 rebounds). Joining Evans with a strong second half surge was senior TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.). After struggling to find her shot in the first 20 minutes, Wiles stormed out of the locker room in the second half - scoring 10 of her 14 points in the final stanza. In addition, seven of Wiles' 10 rebounds came in the second half en route to claiming her third career double-double. Fellow Virginia native Gwen Washington (Manassas) shot 5-of-7 from the field and finished with 11 points and five rebounds.


Despite receiving the news that senior post Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury earlier in the week, ETSU's small lineup stepped up and got the job done. Twenty-two of the Lady Bucs' season high 54 rebounds came on the offensive end, and resulted in 27 second-chance points. In addition, 12 of the 13 ETSU players recorded at least one board in the 28-point win.


"Siarre is just tenacious on the boards - she gets in there and rebounds - and I wonder how sometimes," added head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Buccaneer squad is averaging 88 points in their last two wins.

"TaRonda really got on the boards for us, and we did go small today. When we do go small, everybody realizes they have to block out and crash the boards. We have used this small line up early in the year, but hopefully our freshmen post players will finally catch on with what they have to do in order to contribute."


The small line up gave ETSU some benefits and a lot of the success came from 5-5 junior point guard Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). Davis netted a career high 16 points, but more importantly, she dished out six of ETSU's season high 17 assists.


"This senior class tends to get all the accolades, but T.D. (Tara Davis) has really been the spark plug for this team," added Kemp. "She gets this team going and has been playing extremely well on both ends of the court for us."


Davis did just that for the Lady Bucs, as she scored eight of the first 20 points for the Lady Bucs - forcing UNF to blow a 30-second timeout after Washington's jumper gave ETSU a 16-point lead (20-4) at the 13:40 mark of the first half.


UNF had one fight in them during the opening half, as the Ospreys got to within six, 22-16, at the 8:18 mark; however, the Lady Bucs closed out the final eight minutes on a 15-4 run to take a 37-20 lead into the break.


Neither team shot well in the first 20 minutes, but the difference was ETSU draining six more field goals than UNF - with four of them coming from beyond the arc. The Lady Bucs were 14-of-40 (35.0 percent) from the field and 4-for-17 from beyond the arc (23.5 percent), compared to the Ospreys going 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) and 0-for-6 from 3-point range. ETSU got the job done with its stifling defense and aggressive rebounding. The Lady Bucs forced UNF into 14 first half turnovers - converting those into 21 points - while ETSU's 12 offensive rebounds resulted in 14 second-chance points (UNF with zero). Evans nearly missed a double-double in the opening 20 minutes - leading all players with 10 points and nine rebounds. 


The Lady Bucs never let North Florida really pose a threat in the second half, as ETSU extended its 17-point halftime lead to 23, 58-35, after Davis found Evans open for three with 14:02 on the clock. From there, the Lady Bucs continued to roll and coach Kemp was able to go to her bench. ETSU eventually built a 30-point advantage (80-50) when sophomore Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) knocked down her second 3-pointer of the afternoon with less than three minutes remaining.


ETSU shot a blistering 51.6 percent (16-31) in the second half and finished 30-of-71 (42.3 percent) for the contest. The Lady Bucs made a season best 11 three-pointers and forced the Ospreys into 21 turnovers. ETSU used those miscues to its liking by turning them into 30 points on the offensive end.


UNF finished 21-of-59 from the field (35.6 percent) and were led by Brittany Kirkland's 14 points.


The Lady Bucs will now have 12 days off before travelling to Appalachian State on Thursday, Dec. 17. Tip is set for 5 p.m. inside the Holmes Center.


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