JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 9, 2012) – Four Lady Buccaneer players scored in double figures, but it wasn’t enough to carry the ETSU women’s basketball team past Jacksonville as the Dolphins hung on for an 88-82 win on Thursday night inside the MSHA Athletic Center.
Sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) led the way with her second straight double-double (17th of her career) as the Bluffton, Ga. native posted 21 points (9-of-13 shooting) and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) added 20 points and five rebounds in 31 minutes of action. Red-shirt senior guard Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) – who appeared in the starting lineup for the first time in 11 games – finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, and freshman Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) came off the bench to record 11 points and three steals.
With the loss, the Lady Bucs have now dropped seven of their last nine games and saw the record dip to 6-18, 5-8 in A-Sun play, while Jacksonville picked up its second road win of the year to improve to 8-17, 6-8.
“We just have to pull together as a team – and until we do that – the outcome is going to be like it was tonight,” said head coach Karen Kemp. “If we don’t come together in these last five ball games and play together as one, the outcome won’t change. Our entire focus this week at practice was coming together as a team and taking the “I” out of it. We need to forget about the individual stuff and come together and play Lady Buccaneer basketball.”
Despite seeing seven ties and nine lead changes in the opening 20 minutes, Jacksonville grabbed all the momentum by closing the final 2 minutes, 56 seconds on a 12-4 run to take a 41-34 lead into the break.
In the first half, neither team was able to gain a lead larger than three, but with the Lady Bucs leading by one (30-29) with less than three minutes left in the half, the Dolphins made the first run to take the wind out of the Lady Buccaneer sails.
Both teams shot over 40 percent from the field in the first half, but Jacksonville held the edge in second-chance points and points off turnovers. Despite being out-rebounded by one (20-19), the Blue and Gold were outscored 11-4 in second-chance points, while 12 ETSU turnovers led to 13 points on the offensive end for Jacksonville.
After coming out flat in the first half, the Lady Bucs showed some spark in the opening minutes of the second stanza as they quickly tied things up at 43 after Mitchell connected on a jumper at the 18:25 mark.
Moments later, the Dolphins pushed their lead up to five, but with less than ten minutes remaining Pickwell knocked down one of her four three-pointers to make it 63-all.
Despite tying the game for the tenth time, the Lady Bucs still couldn’t get over the hump until a free throw by Mitchell tied it again, and ETSU finally recaptured a two-point advantage when Iesha Robinson’s (Martinsburg, W. Va.) lay-up made it a 70-68 contest with 5:34 remaining.
Unfortunately, after Robinson missed the chance on the and-one, Jacksonville regained momentum by posting an 8-2 run to take a 76-72 lead with 3:07 showing on the clock. The closest ETSU would get following the spurt was within two, but the Dolphins were clutch down the stretch. In the final 2 minutes, 46 seconds, Jacksonville went 3-of-4 from the field and made seven of its eight free throw attempts to secure its first-ever win in Johnson City.
For the game, the Lady Bucs shot 44.8 percent (30-67) from the field but only went 5-of-18 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Jacksonville shot slightly better at 46.3 percent (31-67) and was 5-for-12 from three. The Dolphins made 21 of their 27 free throw attempts, compared to ETSU going 17-for-24 at the charity stripe. Both teams did have solid ball movement as the Lady Bucs recorded 19 assists to Jacksonville’s 18.
In total, the game saw 13 ties and 11 lead changes.
The Dolphins had five players score in double figures with Crystal Bell finishing with a game-high 22 points (9-of-10 shooting) and 11 rebounds. Jade Cargill also picked up a double-double after netting 17 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.
The Lady Bucs return to action Saturday afternoon when ETSU hosts North Florida. Tip is set for 1:30 p.m. inside the MSHA Athletic Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.