Lady Bucs travel to River City for two critical conference games

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ETSU takes on UNF Thursday, Jacksonville Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 11, 2012) – Coming off a strong homestand, the ETSU women’s basketball takes the road for the first time in 2012 as the Lady Bucs head to the River City to face a pair of Atlantic Sun Conference foes. ETSU takes on North Florida Thursday night at 7 p.m., while the Blue and Gold wrap up the road swing Saturday afternoon at Jacksonville.

The Lady Bucs, who won four of their five games during the most recent home stint, improved to 4-11, 3-2 in A-Sun play after taking down a short-handed Kennesaw State club, 77-61, on Monday afternoon inside the MSHA Athletic Center. Senior guard Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the final six-plus minutes for the Lady Bucs, while Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) reached the 500-point club after netting 12 points and three steals against the Owls. As a team, ETSU went 14-of-15 from the free throw line and tied a season-high with nine three-pointers, along with scoring 32 points off 22 forced turnovers.

ETSU has won its last eight games in January, including three straight to start the 2012 portion of its schedule. During this three-game run the Lady Bucs are averaging 72 points per game and holding their opponents to 57 points per outing, while also getting solid team play as seven players are recording five or more points per game. One of those players registering points is Pickwell – who is leading the way with 17.7 points and 2.7 threes per game since taking on USC Upstate on Jan. 4. Joining Pickwell is Gordon and Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) as they are both posting 10 points per game over their last three contests, and Tosha Austin (Chattanooga, Tenn.) has given the Blue and Gold a lift during this run. Austin is averaging eight rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 24.3 minutes of play since the month of January began.

After picking up three consecutive conference wins, the Lady Bucs moved from last to third in the standings, but sitting right below them is North Florida and Jacksonville. The Ospreys enter Thursday’s game with a record of 5-11, 2-3 (A-Sun) and have won five of their seven home games this season.

Despite the success at home, the Ospreys have lost four of their last five games and are coming off consecutive losses at Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson. UNF is led by A-Sun All-Conference performer Brittany Kirkland’s 12.4 points per game, while reigning A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year, Larkira Jones, is posting 6.7 points and 7.4 rebounds in 16 games for the Ospreys. 

The Lady Bucs lead the all-time series, 10-2, but ETSU suffered a 65-62 setback at UNF last January; however, the Blue and Gold responded with a 74-52 win over the Ospreys back on Feb. 12 in Johnson City. Pickwell enjoyed a career night against UNF last time they met as the Kingsport, Tenn. native scored a career-high 24 points, while Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) came off the bench to add 10 points and eight rebounds.

Fans unable to make the trip to Jacksonville 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 available on ASun.TV, while live stats will be offered via UNFOspreys.com. Fans can also follow the Lady Bucs on Twitter @ETSUAthletics for in game updates.

For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.

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