JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 22, 2012) – Coming off a heartbreaking loss at Belmont last Saturday night, the ETSU women’s basketball team will look to bounce back into the win column when the Lady Bucs return home to take on Stetson in an A-Sun doubleheader on Thursday. Tip of the women’s game is set for 4:45 p.m., while the men follow at 7 p.m. inside the MSHA Athletic Center.
Despite allowing a season-low 15 first-half points, the Lady Bucs couldn’t overcome their offensive struggles as the Blue and Gold were outscored 17-3 in the final 7-plus minutes en route to Belmont pulling off the stunning 49-44 win inside the Curb Event Center. ETSU (7-20, 6-10 A-Sun) led for the majority of the game, but it was Katie Carroll’s three-pointer with 16.4 seconds remaining that broke a 44-44 tie and lifted the Bruins to the five-point victory. Even with the loss, the Lady Bucs secured a spot into the conference tournament after Lipscomb fell to USC Upstate. The Blue and Gold enter Thursday as the No. 8 seed and can only move as high as seventh, meaning ETSU will play its first game on Wednesday, Feb. 29 at either noon or 6:30 p.m. inside Mercer’s University Center.
Sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) – who recorded her eighth double-double of the season after finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds at Belmont – is averaging 16 points and 10.9 rebounds along with shooting 65 percent (67-103) from the field over her last 10 games. Meanwhile, senior Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) returns home to a place where she has been shooting 41.4 percent (12-29) from beyond the arc in her last four games inside the Dome. Over these this stretch, Pickwell is averaging 15 points and is averaging three 3-pointers per game.
As a team, the Lady Buccaneer defense has stepped up their game while in Nashville. ETSU held both Lipscomb and Belmont below 50 points, while also limiting the two foes to 26.8 percent (30-112) shooting from the floor and 18.9 percent (7-37) from three-point range.
While the Lady Bucs are looking to move up from the eighth seed to the seventh, Stetson (21-7, 12-4) is looking to wrap up the second seed slot. Of their seven losses on the season, six have been on the road, while the lone home setback was a 59-55 decision with Florida Gulf Coast last month inside the Edmunds Center.
The Hatters are coming off a 79-56 loss at Florida Gulf Coast last Saturday and currently hold a two-game lead over Belmont for the No. 2 seed in next week’s conference tournament. Victoria McGowan – the A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year – led the Hatters with 14 points, while fellow guard Shanasa Sanders added 12 in the loss. Meanwhile, FGCU knocked down 15 threes and went 16-of-19 at the free throw line, compared to Stetson’s 6-of-22 showing from beyond the arc and 6-for-8 effort at the charity stripe.
McGowan has been living up to the preseason player of the year honor as she is leading the team and ranks second in the conference in scoring (16.5), while also registering two triple-doubles on the season. McGowan finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists at Ball State back in early December, while tallying 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists last month at Mercer.
Stetson is looking to capture the series sweep over the Lady Bucs for the first time in program history after the Hatters defeated ETSU, 68-60, back on Dec. 1 in the A-Sun opener. The eight-point setback was the first-ever loss to Stetson since joining the A-Sun in 2005-06 as the Lady Bucs lead the all-time series, 12-2, while holding a perfect 5-0 mark in Johnson City. Back in December, Stetson led by as many as 15 points in the first half and by 11 at the break, until ETSU erased the deficit to even things at 46 with 10 minutes to play. However, the Lady Bucs couldn’t get over the hump as the Hatters held on for the eight-point win. Three Lady Buccaneer players scored in double figures with red-shirt senior guard Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) scoring a team-high 20 points and dishing out four assists in 34 minutes of action.
Fans unable to make the trip to the dome 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 can be accessed through Gametracker.
During both games, ETSU student-athletes will be on hand raising money for their Relay for Life team. There will be face painting, a silent auction for children 13 and under (auction a student-athlete to sit with the children during the second half), and buckets will be passed out for donations.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.