Lady Bucs continue to roll, snap Florida Gulf Coast's 22-game conference winning streak
Saturday, January 16, 2010

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 16, 2010) - Once again the Atlantic Sun Conference leaders didn't disappoint in a showdown between ETSU and Florida Gulf Coast.


Junior point guard Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) led four Lady Buccaneer players in double figures finishing with a career-high 21 points, and ETSU snapped Florida Gulf Coast's 22-game conference winning streak with an 88-83 victory on Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.


Joining Davis in double figures were seniors Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) and TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.), along with junior newcomer Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.). Evans, who is battling issues with a sore knee, still managed to record her 10th double-double this season (43rd career) after tallying 20 points and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes of work. Gordon finished with 18 points, while Wiles came through with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes of action. To go with her career night in the scoring column, Davis also posted four assists, four rebounds and two steals, while also going 11-of-12 from the free throw line.


ETSU rattled off its fourth straight win and improved to 8-7, 6-1 in A-Sun play, placing the Lady Bucs a half-game behind the Eagles in the conference standings. FGCU suffered its first lost since Dec. 13, 2009 at Michigan State, and dropped to 12-4, 7-1.


"FGCU is a very aggressive team and they shoot the ball well," commented head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs stayed a perfect 5-0 at home after the five-point win over the Eagles. "We knew they shoot a lot of threes, so our perimeter defense had to be really effective today. We had some breakdowns, but I felt like the last three minutes we laced the shoestrings up even tighter and it was gut check time. Fortunately, in the end, we defended pretty well."


"Tara (Davis) was very aggressive taking the ball to the hole. She had two key drives in the second half, and that's what we talked about during our pre-game meetings - was not settling on the outside shot. I felt we could get to the lane on them, and Tara did an excellent job doing so tonight."


The first half was a game of runs, as Florida Gulf Coast opened up on fire and led 16-6, after Courtney Chihil drained the Eagles' fourth 3-pointer at the 13:31 mark. However, after getting off to a cold start, the Lady Bucs heated up and posted a 13-0 run to grab a 19-16 lead following Evans' lay-up with 10 minutes, 39 seconds remaining before the break.


From there, the next 4 minutes, 30 seconds saw four ties and four lead changes, but with the game knotted at 29, ETSU received another bust and grabbed a seven-point advantage, 36-29, when Gordon sank a jumper with 4:28 left before half. Once again, Florida Gulf Coast heated up from beyond the arc - and after back-to-back threes - the Eagles lowered the deficit to one, 36-35, with 3 minutes, 40 seconds showing on the clock. The Lady Bucs had one more run in them before the half, and carried a 44-38 lead into the locker room.


Both teams shot the lights out in the opening 20 minutes. The Lady Bucs shot 54.3 percent (19-35) and 54.5 percent from beyond the arc (6-11); while the Eagles were 14-of-28 from the field (50 percent) and 10-for-18 from 3-point land (55.6 percent). ETSU did an excellent job capitalizing on nine Eagle turnovers, as the Lady Bucs turned in 21 points off those miscues. The Eagles assisted on 10 of their 14 field goal makes, with ETSU having eight. 


Neither team was able to grab any momentum in the first 5 minutes, 39 seconds of the second half, but with ETSU leading 57-52, the Lady Bucs got a spark and pushed their lead to 12, 66-54, when sophomore Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) found (TaRonda) Wiles open for three at the 12:20 mark.


However, the spark didn't last long and the Eagles continued to chip away.


In just a two-minute span, FGCU was able to cut the deficit to four, 66-62, following Chelsea Lyles' 3-pointer with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the contest. Davis came through in the clutch and drove the lane on the next possession to capitalize on a three-point-play - pushing the lead back to seven (69-62). Again, Davis lifted the Lady Bucs with yet another three-point-play with 8:43 remaining to give ETSU a 72-64 advantage.


The Eagles would answer and tied the game at 74, following Adrianne McNally's lay-up with six minutes showing on the clock. Fortunately, for the Lady Bucs, Evans was fouled on the next trip down and the Griffin, Ga. native sank the pair of free throws - placing ETSU ahead 76-74.


From there, FGCU never led or tied the game, but the Eagles had a chance to even the contest with less than a minute to play. With the Lady Bucs leading 86-83, Evans missed an off-balance jumper with 32 ticks remaining - but following a FGCU 30-second timeout - McNally missed a lay-up and Davis put in two free throws to ice the game.


For the game, ETSU shot 47 percent from the floor (31-66) and finished 8-of-20 from beyond the arc (40 percent). Meanwhile, the Eagles were 29-of-59 from the field (49.2 percent) and 15-for-31 from 3-point range. After both teams didn't make a trip to the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes, the clubs combined for 38 total attempts in the final half. ETSU finished 18-of-23, while FGCU went 10-for-15. The Lady Buccaneer defense forced the Eagles into 16 turnovers and ETSU converted those miscues into 34 points.


Like the Lady Bucs, the Eagles had four in double figures with Lyles pacing FGCU at 25 points.


ETSU will now hit the road again as the Lady Bucs make their second trip to the Music City in less than a month. The Lady Bucs take on Lipscomb on Thursday, Jan. 21 inside Allen Arena. Tip is set for 6:15 (Eastern).


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