ETSU will aim to replicate last season’s win inside UNF Arena
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2014) – Following facing the Jacksonville Dolphins short-handed in a 73-56 loss on Thursday, the ETSU women’s basketball team will face another River City squad in the North Florida Ospreys on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. inside UNF Arena.
Approaching the half-way point of Atlantic Sun play, the Buccaneers will look to overcome some adversity and get back on track Saturday against UNF. The Blue and Gold faces the Ospreys after playing undermanned against a good Jacksonville squad in a 73-56 loss on Thursday evening inside Veterans Memorial Arena. Playing without three veteran players, the short-handed ETSU Buccaneers put forth a valiant effort but eventually succumbed to JU’s depth. In the first half against the Dolphins, the Bucs faced a nine-point deficit but fought back to pull within five points, 37-32, going into halftime.
In the second half, ETSU really struggled to put the ball in the basket and had trouble dealing with Jacksonville’s pressure defense with its limited depth. In the end, the Blue and Gold could not find enough to supplement for its lack of key players as it fell, 73-56. The Bucs were led by 12 points from Brianna McQueen (Jonesboro, Ga.), while Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.) notched her seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high tying 16 rebounds.
ETSU (6-13, 2-6) will face North Florida (5-14, 1-7) a bit shorthanded once again. The Bucs will again be without senior guard Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.), who recently suffered a hand injury, as well as junior forward Tiana Burley (Camilla, Ga.) who did not make the trip to Jacksonville due to a head coach’s decision. The status of ETSU’s leading scoring Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) is yet to be determined.
The Bucs and the Ospreys will square off Saturday in the 17th all-time meeting between the two schools; a series that ETSU leads, 11-5. The two teams split both meetings last season with the most recent matchup being a 65-60 ETSU win inside UNF Arena on Feb. 25.
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. NORTH FLORIDA
On Feb. 25, 2013, inside UNF Arena in Jacksonville, ETSU surged ahead to take a 20-7 advantage with 10:30 remaining in the first half. The Bucs’s momentum continued throughout the period as the Blue and Gold headed into halftime with a 33-22 lead. ETSU started the second half much like it ended the first with energy which pushed its lead to 14 at the 13:38 mark. North Florida refused to go away lightly though on its home floor and managed to reduce the Bucs’ advantage. With the Ospreys nipping at the Blue and Gold’s heels down the stretch, guard Cara Bowling buried two monstrous three pointers that allowed ETSU to hold on to its lead. Late free throws from the Bucs also allowed the Blue and Gold to hang on for a 65-60 victory. Bowling carried ETSU to victory with a then career-high 21 points and a current career-best five made three pointers. Maria Bond and Tiana Burley added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
CLARK DOUBLES UP
Junior forward Serena Clark has started 2013-14 off strong, scoring in double-figures in 11 of the 19 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 loss at Jacksonville (1/30) where she posted 10 points and a career-high tying 16 rebounds. Clark has now exceeded her double-double total from last season just 19 games into the 2013-14 campaign with seven this season and is poised for more throughout the year. The forward’s 10.5 points per game currently ranks among the top-20 in the A-Sun, while her 10.5 boards per game is tied for second 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 fourth 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 17 of the 19 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 6.8 points per game in 20 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. 25 versus Mercer. 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 11.7 points per game at the point guard position and is also getting her teammates involved with 3.7 assists per game. This assist mark ranks fifth 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 19 games during the 2013-14 season, ETSU is currently averaging 68.2 points per game which is second in the A-Sun. With the 68.2 points per game also come successes in field goal percentage, where the Bucs are second in the league at 41 percent, and in three-point field goal 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 17 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.
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 conference 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 107-52 (.672) against conference foes since moving into the A-Sun … the Bucs have also won 87 of their last 129 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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