Lady Bucs oust Ospreys with late rally, 68-58
Thursday, February 25, 2010

ETSU closes out game on 26-9 run to clinch a share of regular season crown


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2010) - Trailing by seven with less than ten minutes to play, the Lady Bucs' Atlantic Sun regular season title hopes were hanging by a thread. However, ETSU closed out the game on a 26-9 run and rallied past UNF, 68-58, to clinch at least a share of the regular season title on Thursday night inside UNF Arena.


ETSU were led by its senior leaders as TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) and Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) combined to score 30 points and post 15 rebounds. Wiles ended with 15 points, seven rebounds and two assists; while Evans netted 15 points, eight rebounds and picked off four passes in 36 minutes of work.


With the win, the Lady Bucs moved to 19-8, 17-2 in A-Sun play and clinched a share of the regular season crown after USC Upstate knocked off Florida Gulf Coast tonight in Spartanburg. The 17 conference victories also mark the most league wins in school history for the Lady Bucs. With the loss, UNF dropped to 9-19, 6-13.


"Both TaRonda and Siarre really stepped up when we needed it and played like all-conference players down the stretch," commented head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs are on a six-game winning streak. "When we were trailing by seven late, we put on our full-court trap and that's what got us back into the game. The press fueled our run and gave us the momentum to come away with the victory.


"Now we have one game standing between us and a regular season championship. At the beginning of the season our goal was to win the regular season title outright and Upstate helped us in a big way tonight. We just have to turn all our attention to Jacksonville now and play a complete game for 40 minutes on Saturday."  


The first half was a classic see-saw battle as there were eight ties and six lead changes in the opening 20 minutes. Neither team got anything going offensively, in the first 12 minutes, 20 seconds; however with the game knotted at 16, UNF started to grab a little momentum.


The Ospreys would post a 10-4 run over the next four minutes, and took a 26-20 lead after DeAdria Hilliard drained a three with 4:26 remaining before the break. Fortunately, the Lady Bucs finally found a little groove and scored five unanswered points to narrow the deficit to one, 26-25, as Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) fueled the spurt with a three and a running floater. From there, UNF took a 29-27 lead into the locker room.


In the first 20 minutes, ETSU shot 34.6 percent (9-26) and only made one of its nine 3-point field goal attempts. On the other end, UNF was 12-for-30 (40 percent) from the field and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. The good news for the Lady Bucs was they hit all eight free throw attempts; while UNF finished 2-of-2.


The Lady Bucs took their three-minute energy drink during the break, as ETSU opened the half on a 7-0 run and regained a 34-29 lead after Gordon laid one in at the 17:10 mark. The Ospreys answered with a 12-2 run of their own to take a 39-36 advantage, but the Lady Bucs rattled off six consecutive points and led 42-39 when Iesha Robinson (Martinsburg, W. Va.) scored a lay-up with 13:06 left in the ballgame.


Unfortunately, the Lady Bucs went cold and UNF capitalized.


ETSU went the next 4 minutes, 32 seconds without scoring and the Ospreys saw their lead soar to seven, 49-42, when Jadhken Kerr knocked down her second 3-pointer of the game with 9:48 showing on the clock.


That's when the Lady Bucs buckled down and pulled out their full-court trap - giving the Ospreys fits for the final 9-plus minutes.


Over that stretch, ETSU outscored UNF 26 to 9 and forced the Ospreys into five of their 22 turnovers. With those 22 miscues, the Lady Bucs turned them into 31 points on the offensive end - including eight during the final run of the game. Also, Evans and Wiles combined to score 18 of the 26 points - including seven straight by Wiles in a one-minute span.


For the game, ETSU shot 43.6 from the field; however, after going 34.6 percent in the first half, the Lady Bucs shot 51.7 percent in the final stanza. Meanwhile, the Ospreys were 23-of-61 (37.7 percent) for the game and 4-of-20 from beyond the arc (20 percent). The Lady Bucs were out-rebounded 39-34, but after turning the ball over nine times in the opening half, ETSU posted six in the second. ETSU also got the job done at the charity stripe - going 18-for-24 - while UNF was 8-for-11.


The Ospreys were led by Brittany Kirkland's 15 points and Kerr added 10 in the loss.


The ETSU women's basketball team wraps up regular season play with a trip to Jacksonville on Saturday. Tip is set for noon inside Veterans Memorial Arena. With a win over the Dolphins, the Lady Bucs will win the conference title outright.  


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