Bucs look to improve upon 14-6 all-time series advantage against Dolphins
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 26, 2014) – The ETSU women’s basketball team will close out this season’s home slate by welcoming a pair of teams from the River City to the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center; beginning first with the Jacksonville Dolphins on Thursday evening at 7 p.m.
Carrying the momentum from a victory at Kennesaw State two days prior, the Bucs struggled from the jump at Mercer. Early turnovers proved costly as the Bears quickly turned them into points. Hot shooting from Mercer throughout also proved to be problematic. The duo of Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) and Tiana Burley (Camilla, Ga.) carried ETSU’s offense in the first half and continued on to score 16 of the team’s 25 points in the second half. In the end, the Blue & Gold were outmatched to the tune of an 80-50 defeat. Freshman guard Bridges recorded a team and season-high 20 points, while Burley contributed 17 points and a game-high tying eight rebounds.
ETSU (8-17, 4-10) and Jacksonville (10-15, 7-7) will square off Thursday in the 21st all-time meeting between the two schools; a series that ETSU leads, 14-6. The Bucs won the last meeting with the Dolphins in Johnson City, 74-57, on Jan. 28, 2013. In the most recent matchup between the two teams earlier this season, JU came away victorious, 73-56, on Jan. 30 inside Veterans Memorial Arena.
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. JACKSONVILLE
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. Serena Clark notched her seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high tying 16 rebounds.
BURLEY’S BIG NIGHTS
Pressed into increased minutes due to various personnel issues, junior forward Tiana Burley carried her team to victory in a 63-60 win over Kennesaw State on Feb. 20 inside the KSU Convocation Center. Off of the bench, the Georgia native posted a dominant 25 points in 22 minutes of play. This scoring mark is a career-high for Burley, while the nine rebounds are also a season best. Two days later, Burley added 17 points in a season-high 23 minutes of play in a loss at Mercer (2/22). The post player’s offensive boost will be vital for the short-handed Blue & Gold down the stretch of the season.
CLARK DOUBLES UP
Junior forward Serena Clark has been strong in 2013-14, scoring in double-figures in 13 of the 25 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. 12 - 29 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 USC Upstate (2/15) where she posted 10 points and 15 rebounds. Clark has now exceeded her double-double total from last season just 25 games into the 2013-14 campaign with nine this season and is poised for more throughout the year. The forward’s 9.8 points per game currently ranks among the top-25 in the A-Sun, while her 10.3 boards per game are second in the league.
Junior guard Cara Bowling is currently the leading scorer on the team with 11.6 points per game during the 2013-14 season. Presently, this point total per game ranks among the top 20 in the A-Sun while her 1.8 three-point field goal makes per game is in the top 10 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. The guard did miss six games this season, from Jan. 19 – Feb.1, due to a hip injury, and returned to action on Feb. 8 against Stetson. The junior also missed games at Kennesaw State (2/20) and Mercer (2/22) due to illness.
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 23 of the 25 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 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). Recently, Christopher added career-highs of 17 points and five steals vs. Stetson (2/8).
Freshman Shamauria Bridges has been a great offensive boost for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. The rookie guard is averaging 7.7 points per game in 22 minutes of play and has demonstrated the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. The Florida native has knocked down at least a trio of triples in six different games this season including a season-best four in a loss at Mercer (2/22). In her first career start, Bridges led the Bucs with 19 points in a 74-68 win against Kennesaw State on Jan. 23. The guard also led ETSU in scoring with 13 points in a loss vs. Florida Gulf Coast (2/6). Most recently, Bridges scored a team and season-high 20 points at Mercer (2/22).
BUCS ON THE OFFENSIVE
Through 25 games during the 2013-14 season, ETSU is currently averaging 65.6 points per game which is fourth in the A-Sun. With this points per game total also comes successes in field goal percentage, where the Bucs are fifth in the league at 39 percent, and in three-point field goal percentage, where ETSU is fifth in the conference at 31 percent.
BOND ANCHORS PAINT
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 23 games this season and is currently averaging 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Bond posted a season-high 18 points in a 75-67 win versus Indiana State (12/18) and notched her first career double-double with 15 points and a career-best 15 rebounds at USC Upstate (2/15). The junior 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 109-56 (.661) against conference foes since moving into the A-Sun … the Bucs have also won 89 of their last 135 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 place.
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