ETSU holds a narrow 14-11 all-time series advantage over the Bears
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 24, 2014) – After snapping a four-game losing streak with a 74-68 home victory over Kennesaw State Thursday evening, the ETSU women’s basketball team will look to put together consecutive victories for the second time this season when it welcomes the Mercer Bears to the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. The matchup is the first game of a women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader on Saturday.
Following a turbulent stretch in Atlantic Sun Conference play over the last two weeks, the Buccaneers found a remedy on Thursday evening with a much-needed victory over the Kennesaw State Owls. In the matchup against KSU, the Owls came out energized, scoring the first five points of the contest and building up a 16-9 advantage six minutes into the game. The Blue and Gold responded with a 14-2 run to take a 23-18 lead with nine minutes to go in the first half. Back and forth play continued for most of the duration of the half before Kennesaw State went on a 7-0 run to close the period to leave the Bucs trailing, 37-30, at the break.
After falling behind by as many as eight points nearly three minutes into the second half, the Bucs answered with a 10-0 burst to take a 42-41 advantage with 14:44 to go. Tightly-contested play continued throughout until an ETSU surge put the Blue and Gold up nine points with 2:30 remaining. Solid ball protection and clutch free throws down the stretch allowed the Bucs to ultimately come away with a 74-68 victory. Freshman Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) led ETSU with a career-high 19 points, while sophomore Chandler Christopher (Greeneville, Tenn.) recorded her first-career double-double with 14 points and a career-best 14 rebounds.
ETSU (6-11, 2-4) and Mercer (9-9, 2-5) will meet Saturday for the 26th all-time matchup between the two teams; a series that the Bucs lead, 14-11. The Blue and Gold dropped both meetings against Mercer last season with the most recent matchup being a 67-58 ETSU loss on Feb. 16, 2013 in Johnson City.
WE ARE “ETSU”
The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics would like to ask both the print and broadcast media to honor our request to be called “ETSU” throughout the 2012-13 season ... East Tennessee State in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics, please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.
ETSU ENTERS INTO EZELL ERA
The ETSU Buccaneers enter the 2013-14 season under the guidance of first-year head coach. Brittney Ezell. A two-sport star in basketball and softball at the University of Alabama, Ezell comes to ETSU after spending three seasons as head coach at Belmont University where she compiled a 41-52 overall record. The Franklin, Tenn. native takes the reigns of a veteran-heavy team that returns nine letterwinners from an 8-18 overall 2012-13 campaign. Among the nine returnees are six players who started 10 or more games last season. Highlighted among the returnees is last year’s team-leading scorer and rebounder Destiny Mitchell who led the way with 11.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Supporting Mitchell are juniors Serena Clark and Cara Bowling who each averaged 9.5 points per game last season.
MITCHELL TO MISS REMAINDER OF SEASON
As a result of a leg injury suffered in the first regular season game of the season at Memphis on Nov. 8, senior forward Destiny Mitchell will miss the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign. Mitchell will undergo surgery and continue injury rehabilitation while the ETSU compliance department petitions for a medical redshirt to have the forward cleared to participate in 2014-15.
LAST TIME VS. MERCER
On Feb. 16, 2013, inside the Dome in Johnson City, the Bucs struggled to find the bottom of the net early in the first half but eventually found their groove. ETSU managed to accumulate a five-point lead in the opening period and went to halftime with a one-point, 34-33, advantage. After finding its offense in spurts during the first half, the Blue and Gold went dead cold from the field in the second with only six made field goals the entire half. As ETSU’s offense struggled, Mercer went proceeded to take control of the game, building up a game-high 17-point advantage with 7:28 left. Cutting the deficit to nine in the final seconds was the closest the Bucs would get, falling 67-58. Brianna McQueen led ETSU with 12 points.
CLARK DOUBLES UP
Junior forward Serena Clark has started 2013-14 off strong, scoring in double-figures in 10 of the 17 games this season. After falling just one rebound short of a double-double in the season opener at Memphis (11/8), the native Georgian reeled off four-consecutive double-doubles for ETSU in games from Nov. 12th - 29th including a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds in a 82-65 win against Alabama A&M (11/29). The junior’s most recent double-double came in a 78-75 conference-opening win vs. Lipscomb (1/2) with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Clark has now exceeded her double-double total from last season just 17 games into the 2013-14 campaign with six this season and is poised for more throughout the year. The forward’s 10.7 points per game currently ranks 23rd in the A-Sun, while her 10.1 boards per game ranks third in the league.
Junior guard Cara Bowling is currently the leading scorer on the team with 12.7 points per game during the 2013-14 season. Presently, this point total per game is 13th in the A-Sun while her 2.0 three-point field goal makes per game is tied for third in the league. The Elizabethton native posted a career-high 22 points vs. Saint Francis (Pa.) (11/24) including four makes from behind the arc.
FROM WALK-ON TO STARTER
Sophomore guard Chandler Christopher has proved to be a valuable piece for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. After spending the entirety of the 2012-13 campaign as a seldom-used freshman walk-on, first-year head coach Brittney Ezell liked what she saw from Christopher and decided to elevate the Greeneville native from walk-on to scholarship status prior to this season. Christopher has since recorded her first-career starts in 16 of the 17 games this season and has been a vital cog for the Blue and Gold. After netting two points, five rebounds and three assists in the opener at Memphis (11/8), the guard followed with career-highs of 17 points and four assists in an also career-best 37 minutes played in ETSU’s 81-72 win at Appalachian State (11/12). Christopher’s performance in the Bucs’ first win of the season at App State led to her being named A-Sun Player of the Week by College Sports Madness on Monday, Nov. 18. The sophomore then added another team-leading scoring performance to her résumé with 15 points in a 77-69 loss to Morehead State on Nov. 21. In an 87-76 win versus George Mason on Dec. 28, Christopher tallied a career-high tying 17 points including a career-best five makes from three-point land. In her first game off of the bench this season, the guard notched her first-career double-double with 14 points and a career-best 14 rebounds in a 74-68 win versus Kennesaw State (1/23).
Freshman Shamauria Bridges has been a great offensive boost for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. The rookie guard is averaging 6.4 points per game in 18 minutes of play and has demonstrated the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. The Florida native has knocked down a trio of triples in three different games this season with the most recent performance coming on Jan. 19 versus USC Upstate. In her first career start, Bridges led the Bucs with a career-best 19 points in a 74-68 win against Kennesaw State on Jan. 23.
MCQUEEN DISHING IT OUT
Sophomore Brianna McQueen has been a strong lead guard for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. Using her quickness, the Georgia native is averaging a solid 11.9 points per game at the point guard position and is also getting her teammates involved with 3.8 assists per game. This assist mark ranks fourth in the Atlantic Sun and will need to continue to keep ETSU’s offense near the top of the conference.
BUCS ON THE OFFENSIVE
Through 17 games during the 2013-14 season, ETSU is currently averaging 69.9 points per game which is second in the A-Sun. With the 69.9 points per game also come successes in field goal percentage, where the Bucs are second in the league at 42 percent, and in three-point field percentage, where ETSU is third in the conference at 32 percent.
BOND BEGINS SEASON STRONG
After averaging 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 26 games and six starts in 2012-13, junior forward Maria Bond has proved to be a force in the interior during the 2013-14 campaign. The native Georgian has started 15 games this season and is currently averaging 10.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Bond posted a season-high 18 points in a 75-67 win versus Indiana State (12/18) and remains a vital piece in ETSU’s paint production going forward.
To date in the 2013-14 season, the Bucs are averaging nearly 30 points in the paint through 17 games including 36 in the season opener at Memphis (11/8). ETSU registered 36 points in the paint in home dates vs Morehead State (11/21), Saint Francis (Pa.) (11/24), Indiana State (12/18) and Chattanooga (12/21) as well as in in a road conference matchup at FGCU (1/9). The Blue and Gold got a season-high 42 points in the paint in an 82-65 win versus Alabama A&M (11/29). Recently, the Bucs posted 40 points in the paint in a 78-75 conference-opening win vs. Lipscomb (1/2).
75 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
Since the 2002-03 season the Bucs are 111-20 when the they hit the 75-point plateau, including 80-15 since the 2006-07 season. In the early portion of the 2013-14 season, ETSU put up 78 to defeat Lipscomb (1/2), 78-75, to earn the 111th such victory.
HAVING FUN IN THE A-SUN
The Bucs have enjoyed a lot of success since joining the A-Sun in 2005-06 … since joining the league, the Buccaneers have averaged double-digit conference wins a year, including a league-best and school record 18-2 mark in 2009-10, three Atlantic Sun Tournament titles (2008-2010), and two regular season championships (2008 and 2010) …in total, ETSU is 107-50 (.682) against conference foes since moving into the A-Sun … the Bucs have also won 87 of their last 127 games against conference foes (includes A-Sun Championship games).
BUCS PICKED MIDDLE OF THE PACK
The Atlantic Sun coaches picked the Bucs to finish tied with North Florida at fifth, while in the media poll ETSU was selected seventh ... the coaches picked FGCU with seven first-place votes to win the conference, while the media selected FGCU with 30 first-place votes ... the Bucs finished the 2012-13 season in eighth.
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