Lady Bucs derail Chattanooga in season opener, 85-61
Friday, November 13, 2009

Record-setting crowd witness Lady Bucs open season with 24-point win over in-state rival


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 13, 2009) - The third time was the charm for the Lady Bucs.


After playing two tightly contested games against Chattanooga the last two years, the ETSU women's basketball team finally returned the favor.


The Lady Bucs turned the page and then some, as ETSU derailed the Lady Mocs in front of a record-setting 3,518 fans, 85-61, on Friday night inside Memorial Center. With the win, ETSU snapped a two-game losing skid against Chattanooga, and it also marked the largest margin of victory over the Lady Mocs in the 61-game series.


Tonight also marked the third straight season the Lady Bucs had a successful "Pack the House" event. Each year ETSU has set a new single-season attendance record - and after tallying 3,459 fans against nationally-ranked Vanderbilt a year ago - the Lady Bucs topped that mark with 3,518 this evening.


"Our crowd was amazing and the team fed off their support," commented head ETSU women's basketball coach Karen Kemp. "It was great to see the fans get excited and feed off the energy. Hopefully the fans enjoyed what they saw, and come back to support us for the rest of our home schedule."


Fans had a great incentive on Friday night, as one lucky fan went home with $1,200 cash after draining six three-pointers during a "Shoot for Cash" promotion during one of the media timeouts. In addition, all season long the ETSU students have the opportunity to win a Nintendo Wii, as well as increase their chances to win $1,000 cash at the last regular season home game. Fans were also treated to a special pre-game tailgate party, where they enjoyed free food, games and inflatables prior to the 7 p.m. tip.


ETSU (1-0) was led by the hot hand of senior TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) - who finished 9-of-12 from the field (4-for-4 from beyond on the arc) and recorded a game-high 24 points. Joining Wiles was fellow Virginia native Gwen Washington (Manassas), as she posted her third career double-double in the victory. Washington ended with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while playing 32 minutes.


"If someone would have come up to me earlier in the day and said we would beat Chattanooga by 20 or more points; I would have told them they were out of their mind," Kemp, who has her Lady Bucs off to a 1-0 mark for the first time since the start of the 2005-06 season when ETSU knocked off Mississippi State. "I was a little afraid we might come out flat, because in our two exhibition games I felt like we did come out sluggish. However, these young ladies came out prepared and ready to win a basketball game tonight."


The Lady Bucs only had one flaw in the first half, as Chattanooga took an early 4-0 lead thanks to jumpers from Tenisha Townsend and Megan Rollins. However, after that ETSU kicked things up a notch and outscored the Lady Mocs - 19 to 5 over the next six minutes - to grab a 19-9 lead after Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) nailed a pair of free throws with 13:12 showing on the clock. The Lady Bucs were aided by the 3-point shot during the stretch, as the Blue and Gold knocked down three treys during that run - including two by Wiles.


From there, the Lady Bucs continued to nail threes, and piled it on their in-state rival. Eventually ETSU went ahead, 45-18, when Washington connected on a pair of freebies at the 3:26 mark. Chattanooga never had an answer for the Lady Buccaneer run and ETSU went into the locker room with a 23-point lead, 49-26.


The Lady Bucs made 18 field goals (37 attempts) in the opening stanza, with nine coming from beyond the arc. In addition, ETSU held a plus-9 advantage on the boards - 28 to 19 - and forced the visitors into seven turnovers, resulting into eight points on the offensive end.


In the second half, Chattanooga used the first six minutes to lower its 23-point halftime deficit to 18, 57-39, as Shanara Hollinquest slowly caused havoc for the Lady Buccaneer defense. Hollinquest scored nine of the first 13 Lady Moc points, forcing coach Kemp to burn a 30-second time out after laying one in at the 14:30 mark.


However, after Chattanooga failed to make a larger dent in its deficit, the Lady Bucs responded with four unanswered points and regained a 22-point advantage. Junior point guard Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) and senior Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) fueled the spark, and gave ETSU some breathing room with a little over 12 minutes remaining in the contest. Finally, (Tara) Davis added the dagger when she nailed a wide open 3-pointer in front of the ETSU bench - putting the Lady Bucs up, 72-49, with less than eight minutes left in the game.


For the game, the Lady Bucs shot 44.4 percent from the field (32-72), and out-rebounded the Lady Mocs - 50 to 45. ETSU also capitalized on its long range shooting, as the Lady Bucs were 10-for-20 from 3-point land. Meanwhile, the Lady Buccaneer defense forced Chattanooga into 17 turnovers - resulting into 18 points on the offensive end for ETSU.


Joining Wiles and Washington in double figures were Davis and Evans. Davis ended with 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals; while Evans chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes of work.


A pair of Lady Buccaneer freshmen also stepped up their ETSU debuts. Tosha Austin (Chattanooga) - who replaced Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) in the post - recorded four points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Iesha Robinson (Martinsburg, W. Va.) came off the bench to add six points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of action.


Chattanooga (0-1) was led by Hollinquest's 14 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.


The Lady Bucs now make a quick turnaround, as they hit the road for a four-game road swing, beginning Sunday afternoon at Mississippi State. Tip is set for 3 p.m. (Eastern) inside Humphrey Coliseum.


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