JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 24, 2012) – For Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.), Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.), and Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) they want their Senior Day memory to be a winning one.
The three seniors and entire ETSU women's basketball team hope to close out regular season play and head into the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament with a bang, as the Lady Bucs host league-leading Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday afternoon. Tip is set for 1:30 p.m. inside the MSHA Athletic Center and will be aired live on ESPN3.
This senior class has already built a strong resume as they have been a part of three A-Sun Championships and two NCAA Tournaments, but they hope to add a few more items to that list before their careers come to an end.
One of those items can be the only team in the A-Sun to hand FGCU a loss this season.
The Eagles (25-2, 17-0) are looking to become only the second team in the conference to finish with a perfect conference record. Florida International accomplished the feat twice (1992-93, 1995-96).
FGCU is coming off a 76-63 win at USC Upstate on Thursday night, marking its 17th consecutive victory. The Eagles, who rank first in the country with 11.1 threes made per game, only went 6-for-15 from beyond the arc at Upstate, but outscored the Spartans 46-20 in the paint. Sophomore guard Sarah Hansen went 10-of-11 from the field en route to scoring 22 points, while senior guard Courtney Chihil followed with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and dished out six assists. As a team, FGCU shot 55.4 percent (31-56) from the field and recorded 18 assists, but turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 22 times – resulting into 28 points on the offensive end for Upstate. The Eagles did, however, force the Spartans into 24 turnovers and cashed those miscues into 24 points.
Overall, the Eagles lead the A-Sun in scoring offense (75.0), defense (52.3), scoring margin (+22.6), field goal percentage (.437), three-point field goal percentage (.368), three-point field goal percentage defense (.274), assists (17.1), turnover margin (+7.4), and assist/turnover ratio (1.3).
While FGCU is looking to cap off its perfect season, the Lady Bucs (8-20, 7-10 in A-Sun) are coming off a thrilling 74-72 win against Stetson on Thursday night. After seeing its 11-point lead evaporate late in the second half, Gordon stepped up and scored ETSU’s final five points, while banking in a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down and 35 seconds showing on the game clock. Stetson had one final look at a game-winning three, but Victoria McGowan’s attempt at a three fell short at the buzzer, lifting the Lady Bucs to the two-point conference win.
Gordon led the Lady Bucs with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, while dishing out a season-high eight assists and pulling down six rebounds. Meanwhile, sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) recorded her ninth double-double of the year by registering 10 points and a career-tying 14 rebounds, and Pickwell scored all 14 of her points in the second half as she netted four of ETSU’s eight threes. As a team, the Blue and Gold scored 20 points off 19 forced turnovers and recorded 16 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds.
Prior to Saturday’s game, the three seniors will be honored with a pregame ceremony. The group of Gordon, Pickwell, and Washington have been a part of three Atlantic Sun Championships, including two NCAA Tournament appearances, while combining to score 2,397 points, 1,083 rebounds, and 380 assists in 294 career games. Washington enters Saturday’s game eight points shy of becoming the 20th player in Lady Buccaneer history to reach the 1,000-point club, while Pickwell has scored 79 percent (651 points) of her 828 career points since her junior season. In addition, Gordon has scored over 500 points (577 points) in her two-year playing career at ETSU and was named to the 2010 Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team.
The Lady Bucs trail the all-time series, 6-2, and have lost the last four games in the series, including an 88-60 setback in Ft. Myers back in December. Freshman Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) led the Lady Bucs with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting with six rebounds, while Gordon added 12 points, four rebounds and two assists. The Eagles netted 16 threes (37 attempts) and had three players score in double figures with Kelsey Jacobson finishing with 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc. The last time the Lady Bucs defeated FGCU was back on Jan. 16, 2010 when ETSU knocked off the Eagles by five, 88-83, in Johnson City.
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. The game will also be aired live on ESPN3 as Paul Crane will handle the play-by-play and Dee Romine will be the color analyst. Live stats will be provided via Gametracker.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.