MACON, Ga. (Feb. 1, 2012) – Should the ETSU women’s basketball team want to return to Macon at the end of February for the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, a win over Mercer on Thursday night would help steer the Lady Bucs in the right direction. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside the University Center.
The top eight teams make the conference tournament, which will be held Feb. 29-Mar. 3 in Macon, and ETSU (5-16, 4-6 A-Sun) sits a half-game ahead of Kennesaw State for the seventh seed and one game in front of Lipscomb – who is currently on the outside looking in. On the flip side, the Lady Bucs are also only a half-game out of the fifth seed and one game out from the fourth slot.
After giving LSU all they could handle back on Jan. 24, the Lady Bucs followed that up with a discouraging 74-68 setback at USC Upstate last Saturday. ETSU led by five with 7:25 remaining in the game, but the Blue and Gold were outscored 17-6 down the stretch and saw the Spartans rally for the six-point conference win. Sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) put together an outstanding effort at Upstate as Mitchell finished with 20 points (10-of-14 shooting) and a career-high 14 rebounds; however, she was the lone Lady Buccaneer to score in double figures.
Mitchell has been on fire over her last four games where she has compiled two double-doubles en route to averaging 15.5 points and 12.0 rebounds as well as shooting 72.2 percent (26-for-36) from the field during this stretch. The super sophomore looks to continue this strong stretch and if history is any indicator, Mitchell should keep adding to the stat sheet. The Bluffton, Ga. native is averaging 16.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.7 steals in three games against Mercer.
Mercer (3-19, 1-10 A-Sun) has lost 12 straight games and hasn’t won since defeating Troy, 69-59, in overtime back on Dec. 18, 2011. The Lady Bears are led by reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year Briana Williams’ 14.6 points, while Ry’van Buchanan – who is averaging 10.6 points per game – has missed the last four games. Mercer is allowing 77.5 points per game and scoring 56.8 points, and has also failed to score 60 points in six of its last seven games.
Thursday marks the 21st meeting between the two foes as the Lady Bucs hold a slight series lead, 11-9. ETSU has won the last five meetings in the series by an average of 22.4 points per game (83.8-61.4), while most recently defeating Mercer, 72-46, back on Jan. 7 in Johnson City. Four Lady Buccaneer players scored in double figures as red-shirt senior guard Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) led the way with 14 points, while Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) registered her first career double-double (11 points/10 rebounds). In three career games versus Mercer, Gordon is averaging 12.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, while Pickwell finished with 18 points on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc against the Lady Bears last year in Macon.
Fans unable to make the trip to Macon 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 on ASun.TV, while live stats will be carried via MercerBears.com.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.