JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2010) - Sharing was not an option for the Lady Bucs on Saturday afternoon.
Knowing a win over Jacksonville gave them an Atlantic Sun regular season title outright, the Lady Bucs came out determined and ready to play, as the Blue and Gold defeated the Dolphins, 79-70, inside Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Lady Bucs, who won their second regular season crown in the last three years, were led by TaRonda Wiles' (Danville, Va.) 19 points. Fellow senior Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds - notching her 51st career double-double.
With the win, ETSU moved to 20-8, 18-2, marking the fourth straight 20-win season; while setting a new record for most conference wins in school history. Jacksonville has lost 10 of the 11 games in the series, and finished the regular season at 9-19, 8-12.
"It feels good (to win the regular season title), but there wasn't a whole lot of excitement in the locker room," added head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs picked up their seventh straight victory and won 16 of 17 games overall. "Winning the regular season title is important, but this doesn't guarantee us a trip to the NCAA Tournament - that's what our ultimate goal really is. We have done this before and now we know our next step is to prepare for the conference tournament."
The Lady Bucs scored the first four points of the game; however, ETSU's happy feet kicked in - and after travelling three times in the first three-plus minutes - Jacksonville grabbed a 7-4 lead when Gigi Thomas hit a three from the corner at the 16:26 mark.
From there, ETSU held JU to only two field goals over the next 8 minutes, 23 seconds, and the Lady Bucs mounted a 17-4 run to regain a 22-11 lead when Iesha Robinson (Martinsburg, Wa. Va.) drained a three in front of the Jacksonville bench with 7:43 showing on the clock.
With the Lady Bucs ahead 29-19, Jacksonville had a run of its own in store.
The Dolphins scored eight of the next nine points and cut the deficit to 30-27 with 2:39 left in the half. However, the Lady Bucs weren't rattled by the Dolphin spurt, as Robinson and Evans ignited a 12-5 run with back-to-back threes, and ETSU closed out the half with a 42-32 lead.
The Lady Bucs dominated the stat sheet in the opening 20 minutes - except for 12 Lady Buccaneer turnovers - which kept the Dolphins in the contest. Jacksonville scored 13 points off the miscues, but the ETSU bench did its job - outscoring the Dolphins 13-4. ETSU shot 48.4 percent in the half and were 5-of-11 from beyond the arc.
In the second half, Wiles stormed out of the locker room and fueled the Lady Bucs - netting seven of ETSU's 11 points in the opening 4 minutes, 3 seconds to give ETSU a 53-40 lead - forcing Jacksonville to call a 30-second timeout after she drove in for a fast-break lay-up.
The Lady Bucs and Wiles weren't done pouring it on the Dolphins as her second trey of the half extended the ETSU lead to 16, 60-44, once again making JU burn another timeout with 13:18 left in the contest.
Despite ETSU holding a 21-point lead with 5:41 left in the game, Jacksonville never quit and pulled to within five, 73-68, with 27.8 seconds on the game clock. However, the Lady Bucs made their free throws down the stretch to secure the nine-point win and the conference title.
For the game, ETSU shot 44.6 percent from the floor (25-56) and went 7-of-15 from beyond the arc (46.7 percent). The Lady Bucs also got it done at the free throw line - going 22-of-27 (81.5 percent) - while out-rebounding the Dolphins 42-37. ETSU assisted on 18 of its 25 makes, with Wiles and Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) each recording five.
Davis also hit double figures for the Lady Bucs - finishing with 13 and five rebounds; while Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) added 12 points (6-of-6 at the free throw line).
The win also secured ETSU with postseason play for the fourth straight season.
Jacksonville was led by Drameka Griggs' 19-point effort; while Thomas added 15.
The Lady Bucs return to action as the number one seed in next week's General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Tournament. ETSU will play at noon on Wednesday, March 3 at Mercer's University Center; however; the Lady Bucs' opponent has yet to be determined.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.