ETSU sets school record with 75 rebounds
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 26, 2011) - On a night where Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) became the 18th Lady Buccaneer player to reach the 1,000-point club, teammates Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) and Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) also bolstered their performances in honor of the red-shirt senior reaching the historic milestone.
Mitchell scored a game-high 18 points and Washington came off the bench to add 11 as the ETSU women's basketball team got a sweet taste of revenge by defeating USC Upstate 64-42 Wednesday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
Belcher, who entered the night with 997 career points, finished right on number 1,000 after netting three points, but it was her strong defensive presence that filled up the stat sheet. The Martinsville, Va. native ripped down a career-high 16 rebounds, swatted four shots and forced three steals in 21 minutes of play. To go with Mitchell's high scoring effort, the freshman sensation recorded nine rebounds and forced a personal best five steals. Washington also finished with six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
After suffering an eight-point loss to the Spartans back on Dec. 4, the Lady Bucs responded nicely with the 22-point win and improved to 11-9, 8-3 in league play. The Spartans saw their three-game winning streak come to an end and dropped to 10-9, 6-4.
"I was pretty pleased with how we played defensively, but we committed way too many turnovers," said head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs held USC Upstate 29 points below its season average; however, she also saw her team commit a season-high 36 turnovers. "There was no reason to have that many turnovers and we need to cut down on those mistakes."
Despite not being able to handle the ball cleanly, the ETSU defense did a tremendous job shutting down Preseason Player of the Year selection Chelsea McMillan. After scoring 20 points in the win over the Lady Bucs last month, the Blue and Gold held McMillan to only four points.
"I thought the key was to slow down (Chelsea) McMillan a little bit and we did that from the beginning," added Kemp. "She scored the first bucket of the game, but I felt like Tish, and whoever we had on McMillan, did a pretty good job defending her. Gwen also stepped up tonight and was big for us. It was good to see the bench play well again - and like I said after the Lipscomb game - the team needs this bench scoring in order to reach our goal of winning another championship."
After letting Upstate score the first four points of the game, the Lady Bucs quickly heated up and never let the Spartans get within striking distance. In a hurry, ETSU recorded ten unanswered points, forcing the Spartans to call a 30-second timeout after Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.) sank a baseline jumper at the 14:51 mark.
Even with senior captain Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) sitting on the bench with two early fouls, the Blue and Gold never lost a beat.
The Spartans pulled to within two, but the Lady Bucs outscored USC Upstate 26-4 in the final 11 minutes of the half to take a 24-point lead into the break, 39-15. Over that stretch, five Lady Bucs scored and USC Upstate had to call two additional 30-second timeouts.
ETSU completely dominated the first 20 minutes as they shot 50 percent (15-30) and out-rebounded USC Upstate, 37-13. The Lady Bucs scored 12 points off ten offensive rebounds and 13 points off ten Spartan turnovers. Overall, eight players scored and the Lady Buccaneer bench produced 20 of the 34 first-half points. Meanwhile, the Spartans shot a frigid 17.9 percent (7-39) and only made one of their 11 three-point attempts.
It didn't take Belcher long to etch her name in the record books as her jumper at the 18:50 juncture in the second half marked her 1,000th career point; putting the Blue and Gold up 41-17.
From there, USC Upstate got to within 17 (41-24), but the Lady Bucs remembered what happened back in December and didn't want a repeat performance.
Despite cooling off a bit from the first half, ETSU managed to push its lead back up to 20 with 13 minutes remaining, and the Spartans never got under that threshold. Eventually, the Lady Bucs' lead grew to 29, 64-35, when Randall knocked down a three-pointer at the 3:44 mark, and ETSU cruised to victory.
After shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Lady Bucs shot 29 percent in the final 20 minutes to finish 25-of-65 (38.5 percent) for the game. Fortunately, the cold shooting and turnovers never came back to haunt ETSU, as Spartans shot 19.8 percent (16-81) for the contest. USC Upstate only manufactured 19 points off those Lady Buc miscues, and ETSU limited the Spartans from getting second chances as they out-rebounded the visitors from Spartanburg by 35, 75 to 40. The 75 rebounds set a Lady Buccaneer record - smashing the previous number of 62, vs. Kentucky State back on Dec. 17, 1983. ETSU's bench also outscored Upstate's, 35 to 16.
Kelci Feds led Upstate with a team-high nine points off the bench.
The Lady Bucs return to action Saturday afternoon when ETSU hosts Kennesaw State. Tip is set for 1:30 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.