ETSU sees first half lead vanish, falls to Upstate, 60-56
ETSU sees first half lead vanish, falls to Upstate, 60-56
Saturday, March 2, 2013

Loss pencils Lady Bucs in as the seven seed in the A-Sun Championship

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 2, 2013) – The Lady Bucs watched a five-point first half lead evaporate in the opening minutes of the second period as the USC Upstate Spartans flipped the script to take the lead and hung on down the stretch to defeat ETSU, 60-56, on Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center.

With the loss, ETSU drops to 8-17 overall and 6-12 in Atlantic Sun play, while USC Upstate improves to 12-17 overall and 8-10 in league action.

“Definitely not the way we wanted to finish the regular season,” said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. “I thought our team played hard for the majority of the game, but we just didn’t make shots. Down the stretch I thought we got some good shots, some wide-open looks from three, but they just weren’t falling. I told the team ‘this’ season is over, it is definitely not what we wanted it to be, but it is over and it is time to start a new season on Wednesday in Macon.”

After a pregame Senior Day ceremony honoring lone ETSU senior Tosha Austin (Chattanooga, Tenn.), the Lady Bucs got off to a strong start out of the gate. Where they have been successful all season long, ETSU focused on getting shot attempts in the paint and found success early. The Blue and Gold fed the ball to center Tiana Burley (Camilla, Ga.) who was dominant to begin. The sophomore scored eight points in a 10-3 ETSU run before the first media timeout at the 15:03 mark. Both teams followed by going cold from the field, with Upstate really struggling to find the bottom of the net, shooting only 15 percent in the half. The Lady Bucs increased their lead to as many as 12 points with three minutes remaining in the period, but the Spartans responded with a 9-2 burst to cut ETSU’s advantage to 26-21 at the break.

Upstate carried the momentum over to the second half and scored the first five points of the period to tie the game, 26-26, with 19 minutes remaining. Following, ETSU turnovers allowed the Spartans to get out on the break and convert off these miscues. The cold shooting also continued into the second stanza, especially from behind the arc where the first made three-pointer of the contest didn’t come until Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) nailed a triple with 14:44 left. After back and forth basketball, consisting of multiple ties and lead changes, Upstate responded to a four point Lady Bucs’ lead with a 12-3 streak of its own to take a 51-46 advantage with 3:47 remaining. ETSU responded by cutting into the deficit, but late free throws down the stretch allowed Upstate to hang on, 60-56.

The Spartans got a game-high 15 points from both Brittany Starling and Tee’Ara Copney, with each also adding eight rebounds and seven rebounds, respectively. Meanwhile, ETSU was led by 12 points from Tiana Burley, as well as nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds from Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.).

Despite shooting only 35 percent from the field and 11 percent from behind the arc (1-of-9), Upstate was able to come away victorious. The Spartans were able to supplement somewhat for these struggles by shooting 70 percent from the free throw line (23-of-33), including crucial makes late when they needed them. As noted above, Upstate continued to cash in on ETSU’s miscues with a 14 points off of 16 Lady Bucs’ turnovers and ran away with eight fast break points, compared to zero for the Blue and Gold. The Spartans also got a big contribution from their bench to the tune of 26 points, with ETSU playing below its 25 bench points per game average with only 18.

Meanwhile, the Lady Bucs shot an even worse 30 percent from the field and also struggled from downtown, knocking down only 14 percent (3-of-22) of their attempts. ETSU did shoot a solid 71 percent from the charity stripe (15-of-21), but 13 less tries than Upstate ultimately proved costly. The two squads were dead even with each notching 22 points in the paint, while the Lady Bucs turned 16 offensive rebounds into 16 second chance points. Overall, the Lady Bucs outrebounded yet another opponent (46-42), but were unable to capitalize off of Upstate’s 18 miscues with only nine points off turnovers.   

The Lady Bucs will begin postseason play when they head to Macon, Ga. to participate in the 2013 Atlantic Sun Championship on the campus of Mercer University, March 6 - 9. ETSU is slated as the seven seed which will face the two seed Stetson Hatters on what appears to be Wednesday, March 6, at 6 p.m., inside Hawkins Arena. Stay tuned to and for official tournament pairings and tickets.

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