JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 15, 2011) - Despite battling through nagging back and ankle pain, senior captain Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was determined to walk out of Veterans Memorial Arena with a victory for her Lady Bucs on Saturday afternoon.
Davis poured in a career high 28 points - including a 16-of-18 showing at the free throw line - and ETSU battled past a scrappy Jacksonville squad, 69-62, in Atlantic Sun Conference action. Davis, who entered the game as the second best free throw shooter in the conference, is now 31-of-36 at the charity stripe in her last two games.
Along with Davis, freshman Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) finished with four points, five rebounds and two steals in 21 minutes.
With the win, the Lady Bucs improved to 8-8, 5-2 in A-Sun play, while Jacksonville dipped to 7-8, 2-4.
"I think we switched roles, because I used to be the one fouling," added Davis, who has never lost to Jacksonville in eight tries. "As long as I am putting them in every now and again - then I don't mind them fouling me."
At one point Davis took over as she scored 12 of ETSU's 14 points to end the first half and begin the second.
"I am glad we won the game, because Jacksonville is always a very scrappy team," said Davis. "I am just glad we were able to match their competitiveness, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to lead our team to a victory."
As for head coach Karen Kemp, she knows Davis still gave it all she could despite not being at 100 percent by stepping up with some clutch shots down the stretch.
"Tara was in a lot of pain out there today, but she still gave us 100 percent," commented Kemp. "She didn't mind getting in there and being knocked to the floor. Then she was able to get to the line and put in her free throws.
"T.D. and Tish (Latisha Belcher) were big for us today. Despite playing in foul trouble, I thought Tish came up with some big steals and T.D. continued to hit free throws. However, we need to get better at rebounding, and we focused on that since we started scouting Jacksonville. We knew they were a very strong rebounding team and they can make their lay-ups. We allowed too many second-chance points, so that will be a key item we work on the next day or so before taking on North Florida."
The Lady Bucs got off to a quick start as ETSU hit on six of its first seven shot attempts and grabbed an early 15-6 lead, forcing Jacksonville to burn a 30-second timeout after Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) nailed a three from the right wing at the 14:56 mark. However, ETSU was forced to use a timeout of its own forty-four seconds later as the Dolphins rattled off four straight points to cut the deficit to five.
Despite going over seven minutes without a field goal, the Lady Bucs were fortunate to be only down five, and freshman guard Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.) converted an and-one to cut the Jacksonville lead to three, 23-20, with 7:27 showing on the clock. Then, after trailing for nearly nine minutes, the Lady Bucs went into the locker room tied at 30 after Davis sank a pair of free throws with fifty-two seconds left in the half.
After hitting six of its first seven shots to start the game, ETSU suffered some shooting woes as the Lady Bucs finished the last 15 minutes 3-of-19 to shoot 35 percent for the half. Meanwhile, Jacksonville shot 32 percent (12-38) and out-rebounded the Blue and Gold 24 to 20 - including 11 offensive rebounds. The Lady Bucs used strong free throw shooting to keep them in the contest as ETSU went 11-of-13, compared to the Dolphins going 5-of-6 in the opening 20 minutes.
Davis single-handedly kept the Lady Bucs in the game as she scored the last four points of the first half and first four of the second and ETSU only trailed by one with 15:14 left to play.
Once again the Blue and Gold endured another seven-plus minute drought without a field goal, but Davis was focused to walk out of the arena with a victory as she put in back-to-back lay-ups - giving the Lady Bucs their first lead since the midway point of the first half, 40-37, with 12:18 remaining.
ETSU was able to expand its lead to eight, 56-48, when Davis found Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) open for a fast-break lay-in, but Jacksonville pulled to within five with less than five minutes to go. Fortunately, the Lady Bucs made five of their last six free throw attempts to come away with the seven-point win.
Even though the Lady Bucs struggled from the field - finishing 39.6 percent (21-53) shooting - ETSU won the game at the free throw line. The Lady Bucs took full use of its 30 trips to the charity stripe as they knocked home 25 freebies, compared to the Dolphins' 11-of-13 showing. Furthermore, Jacksonville wasn't any better from the field as the Dolphins shot 32.4 percent (24-74) and only made three of their 15 three-point attempts. The Dolphins did out-rebound the Lady Bucs 44 to 41 and scored 24 points off 23 offensive rebounds; while also registering 23 points off 21 ETSU turnovers.
Jacksonville was led by Taneske Richardson's 15 points and 14 rebounds.
The Lady Bucs will look to cap off the River City sweep Monday night when ETSU travels to North Florida. The rematch of the 2010 A-Sun Tournament Championship is set to tip at 7 p.m. inside UNF Arena.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.