Bucs outscore Norse 39-30 in the second half, but opening period struggles prove to be too much.
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 4, 2014) – Facing a 19-point deficit at halftime, the ETSU women’s basketball team battled back in the second half but could not quite catch up with the Northern Kentucky Norse as it dropped a 73-63 decision on Saturday afternoon inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center.
With the loss ETSU drops to 1-1 in Atlantic Sun play and 5-8 overall, while NKU improves to 2-0 in league action and 6-7 on the season.
In the first half, the Bucs had no answer for the unusually hot shooting performance from Northern Kentucky. For the period, the Norse shot a strong 56 percent from the field including a blistering 83 percent (5-of-6) from the three-point line. Conversely, ETSU struggled on the offensive end of the floor and could not really get any rhythm going. The Blue and Gold did receive a shot in arm off the bench from freshman guard Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) who knocked down a pair of triples to answer NKU’s prowess from three. In addition, the Norse’s strong paint performance (24 points) allowed them to inflate its advantage over the Bucs to 43-24 at the half.
Out of the break, ETSU showed some fire, scoring six of the first eight points of the period. Intensity on both ends of the floor quickly became evident as the Bucs refused to go down without a fight. This passion continued as the Blue and Gold pieced together a 12-2 run to cut its deficit to nine, 45-36, with 15:45 left in the second half. Following a quick burst by NKU to increase its lead to as many as 13 points, the Bucs responded with a 20-12 surge to get within five points of the Norse with 2:56 left to play. Down the stretch, the Norse canned a huge three-pointer and converted on free-throw chances, while ETSU failed to convert on some offensive opportunities which resulted in a 73-63 defeat.
Northern Kentucky featured four double-figure scorers including a huge 13 points off the bench from Lauren White. Meanwhile, the Bucs got 49 points from their starters, led by a team-best 12 points from Brianna McQueen (Jonesboro, Ga.). Additionally, Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds, while Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) added 10 points.
The Norse cooled down a bit from the field in the second half (43 percent), but still shot a solid 51 percent for the game. In total, NKU shot 63 percent from three (7-of-11) and a sound 80 percent (12-of-15) from the charity stripe. Northern Kentucky bested the Bucs in the paint (34-26) and held slight edges in bench points (17-14) and fast break points (8-6).
Scoring nearly 10 points under its season average, the Blue and Gold shot 38 percent from the floor and struggled with efficiency from behind the arc (7-of-21). ETSU did outrebound NKU, 36-32, and turned 13 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points. The Bucs also took advantage of their limited opportunities from the foul line with 10-of-12 makes (83 percent).
The Bucs will begin road conference play when they travel to Ft. Myers, Fla. to take on the FGCU Eagles on Thursday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. inside Alico Arena.
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