Lady Bucs cap off perfect home record on Senior Day, 88-67
Monday, February 22, 2010

Evans records 50th career double-double, Wiles flirts with triple-double in 21-point win over Upstate


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 22, 2010) - After suffering a seven-point loss to USC Upstate back in January, the ETSU women's basketball team was destined to get revenge and protect its home floor in the rematch on Monday night.


The Lady Bucs did just that, as seniors Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) and TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) helped ETSU cap off a perfect home record with its 88-67 victory over the Spartans on Senior Day inside the MSHA Athletic Center.


Evans recorded her 50th career double-double (17th of the season) with her 10-point, 18-rebound effort; while Wiles flirted with a triple-double. The Danville, Va. native finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and a career-high eight assists in 34 minutes of action.


With the win, this Lady Buccaneer team became the first to win each home game inside the Dome (11-0) and improved to 18-8, 16-2 in Atlantic Sun play - keeping them a half-game behind Florida Gulf Coast in the conference standings. Meanwhile, Upstate saw its four-game winning streak come to a halt, as the Spartans dipped to 18-9, 12-6. Ironically, the Lady Bucs now become fans of Upstate, as FGCU closes out conference action with the Spartans on Thursday in Spartanburg, S.C.


"It is tough and it's going to really hit once the season is over; that Siarre and TaRonda won't be back playing on this floor ever again," added head coach Karen Kemp. "But right now - just like they said - we have games to take care of and try to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Once we do that, we can let those emotions really fly. Right now we are just trying to stay focused on winning ball games, and reach our goal for another conference championship. We become big fans of Upstate and we will be cheering really, really hard for them against FGCU. However, with that said, as long as we go to Jacksonville and take care of business, we know we at least clinch a share of the regular season title.


"Going undefeated at home is special and we talked about that before the game. We talked about them being the first team to be able to win every game inside the Dome, so that was an area we focused on. This was a special accomplishment, because it is rare to win every home game in a season. This team is special - especially this senior class - they definitely will be missed, but hopefully we get six or seven more ballgames with TaRonda and Siarre."


In the first half, the Lady Buccaneer defense did a solid job keeping the Spartans from getting second-chance points and limited Upstate to a 3-of-18 showing in the opening 9 minutes, 28 seconds - giving

ETSU an 18-12 lead after Wiles drove in for a fast-break lay-up. Unfortunately, that was ETSU's largest lead of the half, as Upstate posted an 11-4 run over the next 4 minutes, 35 seconds, and the Spartans gained a 23-22 lead when Tee'Ara Copney found Koko Richardson for a lay-in at the 6:07 mark. From there, the game had one lead change and two ties in the final five and a half minutes, and the Lady Bucs went into the break with a 34-32 lead as Wiles found Evans for a lay-up with 45 ticks remaining.


Neither team shot the ball well, as ETSU went 15-for-38 (39.5 percent) from the floor and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc (27.3 percent). Meanwhile, Upstate wasn't any better, going 12-for-37 from the field (32.4 percent) and 2-of-13 from 3-point land (15.4 percent). Both clubs didn't handle the rock with ease, as the teams combined for 23 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. ETSU committed 13 turnovers to the Spartans' 10.   


Once again the first five-plus minutes of the second half were tightly contested, but with ETSU leading 43-42, the Lady Buccaneers mounted a 23-5 run to break the game open and grab a 19-point lead when junior Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) drove in for two of her 16 points at the 10:37 mark.


Upstate never knew what hit them during that blitzkrieg, as the Spartans were forced to burn four timeouts during that span. From there, the Spartans were only able to pull to within 14, 70-56, but the Lady Bucs clamped down on defense and limited the visitors from Spartanburg to only five points from the 7:17 mark to 1:49 remaining in the contest. Throughout that spurt, the Lady Bucs were able to grab their largest lead of the night, as Iesha Robinson (Martinsburg, W. Va.) found local product Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport) open for her second 3-point of the night - giving ETSU an 86-61 lead. In the end, the Blue and Gold were able to post the 21-point conference win, as 10 of the 11 Lady Buccaneer players reached the scoring column.


For the game, ETSU shot 40.5 percent from the floor (30-74); however, after going only 3-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Lady Bucs were 7-of-12 from long range in the final 20 minutes and finished 10-of-23 for the contest (43.5 percent). Upstate never found its stroke from outside, as the Spartans were 4-for-23 (17.4 percent) and finished shooting 30.1 percent from the field (22-73) - marking the third straight game ETSU has held its opponent under 31-percent for the game. The Lady Bucs also did a great job distributing the basketball, as ETSU assisted on 22 of its 30 makes, and out-rebounded the Spartans by nine - 54 to 45.


Joining Evans, Wiles and Gordon in double figures were junior point guard Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and sophomore post Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.). Less than seven hours after being named A-Sun Player of the Week, Davis followed up her stellar performance at Campbell with an 11-point, 8-rebound, 5-assist, 3-steal effort tonight. Those eight boards also set a new career best for the Murfreesboro, Tenn. native. Washington enjoyed her best output of the campaign - finishing with a season best 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting.


After exploding for 31 points and 11 rebounds in the first meeting, ETSU did a great job keeping junior post Chelsea McMillan in check. McMillan was forced to sit on the bench in foul trouble for most of the night and ended with eight points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes of work. Copney led the Spartans with 17 points.  


"We talked about McMillian because she was key for them at Upstate," said Kemp. We talked in practice that we needed to be stronger on the perimeter, so the guards couldn't feed the ball into her at the post as easily. Also, we knew our post players would have to do a better job defending her. We came out in the second half and did a much better job shutting her down."


The Lady Bucs wrap up regular season play with a trip to Jacksonville, as ETSU takes on North Florida on Thursday and Jacksonville Saturday. Tip against the Ospreys is set for 5:30 p.m. inside UNF Arena.


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