Second half intensity carries Lady Bucs to 13-point win over Cumberlands
Sunday, November 1, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 1, 2009) - After not showing any firepower or intensity in the first 20 minutes against Cumberlands, the ETSU women's basketball team dug deep and made a statement in the second half, as the Lady Bucs downed the Patriots 74-61 in the exhibition opener inside Memorial Center on Sunday afternoon.


The Lady Bucs had three players score in double figures, as senior TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) led the way with a game-high 19 points. Joining Wiles was Siarre Evans' (Griffin, Ga.) 17-point, 11-rebound performance and junior point guard Tara Davis' (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 10-point effort.


"We have focused on defense from day one every day; that's the majority of our practice," commented head coach Karen Kemp. "In the first half, our defense was very disappointing. Cumberlands came out shooting the ball very well, and they were more ready to play as far as intensity was concerned. Our focus at the break was to find that intensity, because we can't give up 40 points in one half every night. In the end, I thought the team responded to the challenge and played extremely well on the defensive end in the final 20 minutes."


For the second straight year ETSU was trailing to Cumberlands at the half, as the Patriots closed out the final five minutes and seventeen seconds on an 18-7 run to take a 40-39 lead into the locker room.


Fortunately, after letting Cumberlands shoot 48.1 percent (13-27) in the first half, ETSU buckled down on defense and turned up the heat in the second half. In the final 20 minutes, the Lady Bucs limited the Patriots to a frigid 19.4 shooting percentage (6-31), and ETSU outscored the visitors from Kentucky - 35 to 21.


ETSU scored the first four points to open the final 20 minutes, and regained a 43-40 advantage with 18:57 left to play. However, Cumberlands didn't back down and led 47-43 after Lauren Wombles hit a jumper at the 16:11 mark. From there, the Lady Bucs rattled off nine unanswered points and took control of the game with ten minutes remaining in the contest.


The Lady Bucs never trailed after Evans' jumper at the 12:35 mark, and ETSU finally took a double digit lead for the first time in the half when Wiles sank a pair of free throws with less than six minutes to go in the contest. Eventually the Lady Bucs saw their lead grow to as many as 16, 72-56, thanks to another Wiles freebie with 2:57 showing on the clock.


Each team shot an identical 32.8 percent from the field for the game, but ETSU used 28 Patriot fouls to its liking - going 29-for-40 (72.5 percent) from the charity stripe. Cumberlands went to the line 11 less times than the Lady Bucs and connected on 19 (29 attempts). Both ETSU and Cumberlands  finished with 48 rebounds, but the Lady Bucs turned 24 Patriot turnovers into 24 points.


The Lady Bucs received solid minutes from freshman post Tosha Austin (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and junior newcomer Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.). Austin pulled down 10 rebounds to go along with six points and one block; while Gordon finished with six points, three assists and a steal in 18 minutes of work.


Both teams opened the contest on fire as the clubs combined to hit six of their first nine shot attempts. Then, with the game tied at 8-all, ETSU found some breathing room by posting a 14-4 run over the next five minutes and led 22-12 after Wiles drilled a three-pointer with 11:59 remaining until intermission.


Unfortunately, a 30-second timeout by the Patriots paid off, as the Cumberlands cut its deficit to two, 22-20, on Wombles' lay up with less than ten minutes left before halftime. The Lady Bucs responded with an 8-0 run over the next two-plus minutes, but Cumberlands took the wind out of ETSU's sails in the final five minutes to lead 40-39 at the break.


Cumberlands was led by Amber Neace's 16 points; while Wombles and Brittanie Ware each netted 10 in the losing effort.


ETSU returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 7, when the Lady Bucs close out exhibition play with King College. Tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m. inside Memorial Center.


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