CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Dec. 11, 2011) – The ETSU women’s basketball team gave 18th-ranked North Carolina all they could handle; however, the Tar Heels used an 18-2 run midway through the second half to pull away and capture a 93-77 victory in front of 1,978 fans inside Carmichael Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Four Lady Buccaneer players scored in double figures with sophomore guard Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.) leading the way with a season-high 16-point effort off the bench. Randall finished 7-of-15 from the field and dished out three of ETSU’s season-high 17 assists. Fellow sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) added 13 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, while Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) added 12 and Brianna Bogard (Georgetown, Texas) pitched in with 11 points (3-of-4 from beyond the arc), three rebounds, and two assists (zero turnovers) in 20 minutes.
ETSU – who covered over 4,300 miles on its season-long five-game road trip – dropped to 0-10 on the year, while the Tar Heels improved to 7-1 with the win.
The Lady Bucs held their own with the nationally-ranked Tar Heels in the first 20 minutes as ETSU held a pair of leads and only trailed by four at the half, 39-35.
ETSU scored the first five points of the game and carried an early three-point lead (7-4) into the first media timeout at the 15:38 mark. Again, ETSU pushed its lead back to five courtesy of a Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) jumper out of the timeout, but things started to get shaky for the Blue and Gold over the next two minutes, forty-five seconds.
In a matter of seconds the Tar Heels tied the game at nine and led by five after She’la White’s jumper made it a 14-9 contest seven minutes into the game.
However, the Lady Bucs got a spark from their bench as threes by Randall and Bogard cut the deficit to one, 16-15, with 11:08 showing on the clock.
Once again in less than a minute, UNC built a six point lead (21-15), but the Lady Bucs continued to get strong contributions for their bench. A pair of Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) free throws, followed by Iesha Robinson’s (Martinsburg, W. Va.) running jumper put the Blue and Gold back up one, but it was Bogard’s second three of the half that put ETSU up four, 27-23, forcing the Tar Heels to call a 30-second timeout with 7:36 left before the break.
With the game tied at 29, the Tar Heels mounted a 10-2 run to grab an eight point lead, but the Lady Bucs scored the final four points of the half.
Despite being outshot 28.9 (13-45) to 44.1 percent (15-34), the Lady Bucs stood strong with the Tar Heels in the first half. ETSU netted two more threes than UNC and out-rebounded the Tar Heels by eight, 30 to 22. Also, the Lady Bucs assisted on 10 of their 13 made field goals and tallied nine turnovers.
Just like the first half, the Lady Bucs began the final 20 minutes with five unanswered points to regain a 40-39 advantage, but the Tar Heels quickly responded with seven straight points to recapture a 46-40 advantage when Krista Gross sank a pair of free throws at the 17:44 mark.
Again, the Lady Bucs didn’t back down.
In a matter of a minute and fifteen seconds, Bond came through with consecutive baskets and Pickwell’s second three of the game tied it at 47.
From there, the Tar Heels scored 18 of the next 28 points to gain a 10 point advantage, but ETSU clipped the deficit in half, 65-60, when Washington found Bogard open for three with 10:51 left in the contest.
Unfortunately, that’s as close as the Blue and Gold would get as UNC mounted the 18-2 run to take its largest lead of the game, 83-62. Despite falling behind by the large margin, the Lady Bucs continued to fight until the end and made it a 16-point setback.
The Lady Bucs shot 43.2 percent in the second half and finished 29-of-82 (35.4) for the contest. Meanwhile, UNC shot 51.4 percent in the final 20 minutes and went 33-for-69 (47.8). ETSU made three more three-pointers than the Tar Heels as the Lady Bucs made a season-best nine treys, compared to UNC’s 6-of-16 showing.
Despite being outsized, the Blue and Gold won the rebounding battle, 50 to 45, but the major statistical difference came at the free throw line. North Carolina went to the line 19 more times than the Lady Bucs and made 11 more free throws. ETSU finished 10-of-12, while the Tar Heels were 21-for-31.
Chay Shegog led all scorers with a career-tying 26-point effort and completed the double-double with 12 rebounds. Danielle Butts was also one of four UNC players to register double figures in scoring as she finished with 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
ETSU will now take the next week and two days off to focus on final exams as the Lady Bucs don’t return to action until Dec. 20 when Morehead State visits the MSHA Athletic Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.