MACON, Ga. (March 2, 2011) - Survive and advance is the name of the game when playing in a single-elimination tournament, and the Lady Bucs did just that Wednesday afternoon in the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Quarterfinals.
Junior Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) stepped up and scored a career-high 24 points off the bench, and the ETSU women's basketball team overcame a strong test from a gritty Lipscomb club as the Blue and Gold held on for an 83-75 victory inside Mercer's University Center.
Joining Washington in scoring was senior guard Tara Davis' (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 23-point effort - marking her 12th 20-plus point game this season. Despite tweaking her knee and playing through the pain, Davis also recorded seven rebounds, five steals and four assists in 37 minutes of play.
With the win, the Lady Bucs have now won ten straight A-Sun tournament games and improved to 19-11 on the year. The ten consecutive wins are the most since Georgia State also won ten straight from 2001 through 2004. Meanwhile, Lipscomb saw its season come to an end and finished with a 9-21 record.
"The first one is always the toughest and we knew Lipscomb would be ready, because they played us really tough at their place a little over a week ago," said head coach Karen Kemp, who improved to 14-1 lifetime against Lipscomb. "At this point in the season, everybody is playing to survive and advance. I thought Gwen really came in and gave us the spark we needed in the first half, while Tara continued to battle and found a way to get us a bucket when we needed it. Overall, I am just really pleased with our effort, even though we had some defensive letdowns, but we can't let that happen again on Friday. If we do, we will be heading back to Johnson City without the Championship that we set out to win at the beginning of the year."
The Lady Bucs came out sluggish as the Blue and Gold missed on six of their first eight shots, while turning the ball over four times in the opening five minutes, thirteen seconds, resulting in Lipscomb holding an early 8-5 lead. From there, the next three-plus minutes were tightly contested as the game saw one tie and four lead changes, but with Lipscomb leading 14-13, Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Washington picked up the slack as they scored 15 of the next 17 points for ETSU - putting Lady Bucs up 30-23 after Washington laid one in forcing Lipscomb to burn a 30-second timeout at the 5:07 mark. Unfortunately, the timeout worked as the Lady Bisons closed out the final five minutes on a 12-3 run to take a 35-33 lead into the break.
ETSU shot 29.7 percent (11-37) for the half and went 3-of-14 from beyond the arc, compared to Lipscomb shooting 36.4 percent (12-33) and hitting on four of its 15 three-point attempts. The Lady Bucs out-rebounded the Lady Bisons by nine, 28-19, but ETSU only managed to record eight second-chance points off 14 offensive rebounds.
Just like the first half, the opening nine minutes, twenty seconds of the second half were nip-and-tuck, but with Lipscomb up one, the Lady Bucs rattled off eight unanswered points to take a 53-46 lead, forcing the Lady Bisons to call a timeout after Davis capped off a steal and score with 11:40 to play in regulation.
Lipscomb was able to get to within five with a little over ten minutes to play, but the Lady Bucs looked to have things in control after extending their lead 12, 71-59, after Washington sank two of her eight free throws at the 2:58 mark.
However, the Lady Bisons had one last punch in them, but ETSU wasn't ready to take an early exit in the quarterfinal game.
Lipscomb made it a 78-75 contest following back-to-back three-pointers from Valerie Bronson and Anna Bowers with forty-eight seconds to play. Fortunately, the Blue and Gold made five of their last eight free throws down the stretch to pull out the eight-point victory.
After not clearing 30-percent shooting in the first half, the Lady Bucs shot 48.5 percent in the final 20 minutes to finish 38.6 for the game (20-70). Meanwhile, ten of Lipscomb's 25 makes came from beyond the arc, but just like ETSU did a few weeks in Nashville, the Lady Bucs won the game at the charity stripe. ETSU went 26-of-34 from the free throw line, while the Lady Bisons made 15 of their 21 attempts. ETSU also out-rebounded Lipscomb by 13, 52 to 39, while forcing the Lady Bisons into 21 turnovers - marking the 300th consecutive game the Lady Bucs have forced their opponent into double figure turnovers.
Despite battling flu-like symptoms, red-shirt senior Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) wasn't ready to see her playing career come to an end after finishing with five points, eight rebounds and two steals. Pickwell added two key threes to finish with 11 points, while freshman guard Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.) registered 12 points in 21 minutes of work in her first A-Sun tournament contest.
Bowers and Second Team All-Atlantic Sun selection Jenna Bartsokas kept Lipscomb in the contest by netting eight of the Lady Bisons' ten threes. The strong guard duo both finished with 18 points, while Valerie Bronson added 15 in her final collegiate game.
The Lady Bucs will now face the winner of No. 4 North Florida/No. 5 Jacksonville in Friday's semifinal contest at noon. The UNF/JU contest is set to tip at noon on Thursday.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.