JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 14, 2012) – After playing stellar team basketball and finding the energy needed to go on a winning streak last week at home, the ETSU women’s basketball team completely lost everything on Saturday afternoon inside Veterans Memorial Arena as Jacksonville handed the Lady Bucs a 70-44 setback in Atlantic Sun Conference action.
Coming into the River City, the Lady Bucs were hoping to break away from the middle of the pack and put themselves within striking distance to contend for a conference championship, but things went south after this two-game swing. Following the 26-point setback, the Lady Bucs head back to Johnson City with a record of 4-13, 3-4, and hope to rebound against Belmont on Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Dolphins won their sixth straight home game and improved to 6-12, 4-3.
After playing strong basketball for 35 minutes on Thursday night against North Florida, the Lady Bucs just fell out of rhythm and the hangover affect came into play on Saturday as freshman guard/forward Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) was the lone ETSU player to score in double figures. Bowling finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes of play. The next closest player in scoring for the Blue and Gold was Natalie Pickwell’s (Kingsport, Tenn.) 7-point effort.
“I was extremely disappointed in the way we came out to start the game,” said head coach Karen Kemp, whose Lady Bucs had won eight straight regular season meetings against Jacksonville.
“We were very flat and played with no energy, passion, and heart. These three things are what helped us get the wins last week at home, and I told the team we need to bring it on the road in order to win. Hopefully this will be an eye opener for the team.”
The Lady Bucs scored the first two points of the game as Pickwell’s jumper at the 18:37 mark put ETSU up 2-0; however, the wheels fell off from there and Jacksonville took control for the remainder of the game.
The Dolphins answered Pickwell’s bucket with a 9-0 run and eventually pushed their lead to 20, 26-6, courtesy of Maggie Wilson’s three-pointer with less than 11 minutes left before the break. ETSU had a chance to make a small dent right before the half, but with the Lady Bucs down 16, Bowling missed a lay-up and the Dolphins closed out the final 48 seconds on a 5-0 run to take a 41-20 lead into the locker room.
The only positive after the first 20 minutes of play was Bowling’s 11-point effort, while the rest of the team combined for nine points on 3-of-23 shooting. As a team, ETSU shot 21.2 percent (7-33) from the field and missed on all six of its three point attempts, while Jacksonville shot 41 percent (16-39) and connected on 5 of its 12 shots from beyond the arc. The Dolphins also got out and ran as Jacksonville outscored a sluggish ETSU squad, 16-2, in fast-break points.
Things didn’t get any better in the second half despite the Blue and Gold holding Jacksonville scoreless for the opening 3 minutes, 2 seconds. However, over that stretch the Lady Bucs only cut the deficit to 19 – and from there – ETSU was only able to pull within 16, 51-35, after Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) found Bowling open for three with 10:45 left to play.
After the Lady Bucs had two possessions to cut the deficit even lower, Jacksonville posted a 17-6 run to take its largest lead of the game, 68-41, with less than three minutes to play.
For the game, the Lady Bucs shot a season-low 20 percent (14-70) and went 2-of-15 from beyond the arc. The Dolphins – who entered Saturday’s game averaging 3.8 three-pointers per game – went 8-for-18 from long range and shot 36.5 percent (27-74) from the field. Jacksonville finished the game with a plus-21 margin in fast-break points, 25 to 4.
Jacksonville was led by Abril Peeples’ 19 points off the bench, while Crystal Bell added 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.
ETSU now heads up for a three-game home swing, beginning with Belmont on Thursday night inside the MSHA Athletic Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.