ETSU, Chattanooga renew longtime rivalry Thursday night
ETSU, Chattanooga renew longtime rivalry Thursday night
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2011) – If the Lady Bucs want to string together two consecutive wins for the first time this season, ETSU will have to go through a familiar foe to do so.

ETSU and Chattanooga renew its longtime rivalry as the former SoCon rivals square off on Thursday night at 7 p.m. inside the MSHA Athletic Center.

Thursday marks the 72nd all-time meeting between the in-state foes as the Lady Mocs hold a 50-21 lead in the series. However, the Lady Bucs have won the last two in the rivalry by an average of 20.5 points per game. ETSU opened last season with a 77-60 win in Chattanooga, while the Blue and Gold began the 2009-10 campaign with an impressive 85-61 victory over the Lady Mocs in Johnson City. A win over Chattanooga will give the Lady Bucs their third straight over the Lady Mocs, which would mark ETSU’s longest winning streak in the series since taking four straight from January 11, 1997 until Feb. 9, 1998. In last season’s win, Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) began her Lady Buccaneer career in fine fashion as she recorded a double-double (16 points/12 rebounds), while Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) added 17 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 35 minutes of play. Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) led all scorers with 23 points and seven assists.

The task won’t be an easy one for the Lady Bucs as Chattanooga (7-3) was picked to win the Southern Conference championship and have rattled off five straight wins – including a 37-point win over Kennesaw State and a 33-point win versus Belmont. The Lady Mocs are coming off a 64-58 victory over Western Carolina on Monday night, while Chattanooga’s three losses on the season have come against top-ranked Baylor, Idaho State, and BIG EAST foe Cincinnati.

Chattanooga is led by preseason all-conference selections Whitney Hood and Kayla Christopher. Hood leads the team in scoring (11.3) and field goal percentage (52.1), while Christopher is averaging 10.7 points and has knocked down a team-leading 19 three-pointers on the season. If that wasn’t enough, the Lady Mocs received an early Christmas gift as Tennessee Lady Vol transfer, Faith Dupree, became eligible back on Dec. 12 and she’s averaging 6.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in three games. Dupree played two games in Knoxville her freshman season in 2009-10 before red-shirting the remainder of the year.

Meanwhile, the Lady Bucs are hoping their 11-point win over Morehead State on Tuesday night is contagious and can turn it into a second straight win Thursday. The last time ETSU (1-10) won consecutive games during the regular season was when the Lady Bucs won four in a row last February.

The Lady Bucs, who have 10 of 11 players averaging double figures in minutes played, were led by the strong play of Mitchell, Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.), and Tosha Austin (Chattanooga, Tenn.) on Tuesday night. Mitchell recorded her first double-double of the season (12th of her career) after finishing with 13 points (6-of-11 shooting) and 10 rebounds, while Bond led the Blue and Gold with 14 points, three rebounds and three blocks. In addition, Austin – who only played 14 minutes because of foul trouble – managed to register seven points and a season-high 11 rebounds despite the limited action. As a team, ETSU forced the Eagles into a season-high 26 turnovers and cashed those miscues into 28 points. The Lady Buccaneer bench also outscored Morehead State by 17, 20 to 3.

Mitchell has seemed to have found her groove over the last six games, as the Bluffton, Ga. native has scored in double figures four times over the stretch and is averaging 10.8 points and 9.0 rebounds, while shooting 51.7 percent from the field (31-60). The 2010 Second Team All-Atlantic Sun selection is also averaging 12.7 points and 8.0 rebounds in three home games this season. Joining Mitchell with some positive momentum is Bond – who is recording 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in her last four outings. The Macon, Ga. native is also shooting at a 50-percent clip (15-30) during this time frame.

Thursday marks the final game in 2011 for the Lady Bucs as ETSU doesn’t return to the hardwood until Wednesday, Jan. 4 when the Blue and Gold host USC Upstate in conference play.

Fans unable to attend Thursday’s game can listen to all the action on WXSM-AM 640 The Extreme Sports Monster as “Voice of the Lady Bucs” John Stevens will carry the play-by-play. Live video will also be offered via A-Sun.TV, while live stats will be available through GameTracker.

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