ETSU slotted into six seed in A-Sun Championship; set to face three seed USC Upstate Tuesday in Spartanburg, S.C. at 7 p.m.
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (March 7, 2014) – The ETSU women’s basketball team will wrap up regular season play with a trip to Northern Kentucky University to take on the Norse on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. inside the Bank of Kentucky Center.
The Bucs will look to recover after a heartbreaking, 76-74, loss to Lipscomb on Thursday evening inside Allen Arena. With ETSU leading by one point, 72-71, with less than 30 seconds left to play, LU’s Sara Bliss nailed a three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining which was ultimately the dagger in a 76-74 Blue & Gold defeat. ETSU enjoyed a strong first half, leading by 12 points at one point and taking a 41-34 lead into halftime. The Lady Bisons answered back in the second half, tying the game, and participating in back and forth action for the duration of the contest. In the end, Lipscomb’s one, big play down the stretch was the difference. ETSU featured five double-figure scorers; led by 13 points from Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.).
ETSU (9-19, 5-12) and Northern Kentucky (16-12, 12-5) will square off Saturday in the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools; a series that NKU leads, 3-0. In the most recent meeting between the two teams - earlier this season on Jan. 4 - the Norse came away victorious, 73-63, inside the MSHA Athletics Center.
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. NORTHERN KENTUCKY
After beginning Atlantic Sun Conference play with a 78-75 victory over the Lipscomb Lady Bisons on Jan. 2, the Bucs were unable to push their winning streak to three games following a 73-63 loss to Northern Kentucky on Jan. 4. The Blue and Gold got behind early and took a 19-point deficit into halftime against NKU. Out of the break, ETSU showed some fire, scoring six of the first eight points of the second period. Intensity on both ends of the floor quickly became evident as the Bucs refused to go down without a fight. The Blue and Gold got to within as few as five points with 2:56 remaining but could not make enough plays down the stretch to top the Norse. Maria Bond chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds, while Cara Bowling added 10 points.
RANDALL’S SENIOR NIGHT SEND-OFF
Lone departing senior Shawn Randall saved her season best for her final game inside the MSHA Athletics Center with a game and season-high 19 points in ETSU’s dominant, 76-41, Senior Night victory over the North Florida Ospreys. The guard was an efficient 8-of-12 from the field and reached these numbers after only playing 28 minutes in the contest. Randall followed this performance with 12 points in her second-consecutive start in a loss at Lipscomb (3/6).
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). In addition, Burley posted 12 points in 18 minutes of play in a loss at Lipscomb (3/6). 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 16 of the 28 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 28 games into the 2013-14 campaign with nine this season and is poised for more throughout the year. The forward’s 10.6 points per game currently ranks among the top-25 in the A-Sun, while her 10.0 boards per game are second in the league.
Junior guard Cara Bowling is currently the leading scorer on the team with 11.2 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 1.7 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) & Mercer (2/22) due to illness as well as contests against North Florida (3/1) and Lipscomb (3/6) as a result of a concussion.
FROM WALK-ON TO STARTER
Sophomore guard Chandler Christopher has proven 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 26 of the 28 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). The guard has led ETSU in scoring and rebounding three times this season and has been the team's leader in assists in 10 games.
Freshman Shamauria Bridges has been a great offensive boost for the Bucs during the 2013-14 season. The rookie guard is averaging 7.9 points per game in 23 minutes of play and has demonstrated the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. The Florida native has knocked down three or more triples in seven different games this season including season-bests of four makes at Mercer (2/22) and vs. North Florida (3/1). 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).The first-year player has led the Bucs in scoring in three games this season and has recorded eight double-figure scoring performances. Averaging 1.5 three-point makes per game which ranks 11th in the league which is third among A-Sun freshmen.
BUCS ON THE OFFENSIVE
Through 28 games during the 2013-14 season, ETSU is currently averaging 66.0 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 fourth in the league at 40 percent, and in three-point field goal percentage, where ETSU is fifth in the conference at 32 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 26 games this season and is currently averaging 9.5 points and 5.1 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 112-20 when the they hit the 75-point plateau, including 81-15 since the 2006-07 season. In the late portion of the 2013-14 season, ETSU put up 76 to defeat North Florida (3/1), 76-41, on Senior Night to earn the 112th 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 110-58 (.655) against conference foes since moving into the A-Sun … the Bucs have also won 90 of their last 138 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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