ETSU looks to avenge two closely-contested losses this season against the Spartans
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (March 10, 2014) – The No. 6 seed ETSU women’s basketball team will open postseason play with a trip to USC Upstate to take on the No. 3 seed Spartans in quarterfinal action of the 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship on Tuesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. inside the Hodge Center.
The Bucs enter postseason play after dropping a 58-50 decision at Northern Kentucky on Saturday in both teams’ final regular season contest. ETSU suffered a sluggish first half where it fell behind by as many as 19 points and trailed 34-20 at the half.
Once again, the Bucs played inspired ball out of the locker room to start the second period. ETSU scored the first eight points of the half to reduce its deficit to six, 34-28, with 17:55 remaining. Both teams then traded runs where ETSU scored 10 unanswered points to only trail 46-42 with 4:54 left to play. Ultimately, the Bucs could not get stops and make plays on the offensive end down the stretch, resulting in a 58-50 defeat.
The Blue & Gold was paced by 14 points from Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.), highlighted by 12 in the second half, while Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) contributed 12 points and a game-high tying nine rebounds.
ETSU (9-20, 5-13) and USC Upstate (16-13, 11-7) will square off Tuesday in the 15th all-time meeting between the two schools; a series that is tied at seven games apiece. The two squads met twice during the 2013-14 regular season with the Spartans sweeping both contests. In the most recent meeting between the two teams on Feb. 15, 2014, Upstate came away victorious, 69-60, in Spartanburg. The Bucs have never faced USC Upstate in the A-Sun Championship.
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.
BUCS IN ATLANTIC SUN CHAMPIONSHIP
Since joining the Atlantic Sun Conference prior to the 2005-06 season, ETSU is 11-5 in Atlantic Sun Championship contests including nine-straight wins from 2008-11. Recently, the Blue & Gold has dropped three-consecutive games in the tournament including last season’s 66-55 loss to eventual champion Stetson. The Bucs hope to put a run together in their final appearance in the tournament for the foreseeable future.
LAST TIME VS. USC UPSTATE
The Blue & Gold came out energized with a 10-2 run to begin the game, holding a lead throughout, and staved off a Spartans’ comeback to take a 27-22 lead into halftime. To open the second period, ETSU continued its momentum before Upstate went on a 10-4 surge to pull within two points with 13:48 left to play. The Bucs then answered to take a firmer hold onto the lead, but the Spartans responded with another burst to tie things up at 48 with seven minutes to go. Both teams traded the lead over the next few minutes before Upstate went on an 8-0 run over the final two minutes of the contest to take control and down the Blue & Gold, 69-60. ETSU was led by a pair of double-doubles from post players Maria Bond and Serena Clark. Bond paced the Bucs on the scoring end with 15 points as well as a career-high 15 rebounds in her first career double-double, while Clark notched her ninth double-double of the season with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
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 29 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 29 games into the 2013-14 campaign with nine this season and is poised for more throughout the year. The forward’s 10.5 points per game currently ranks among the top-25 in the A-Sun, while her 9.9 boards per game are second in the league.
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 27 of the 29 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 8.1 points, including 9.6 in league play, 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 four games this season and has recorded nine double-figure scoring performances. Bridges is also averaging 1.5 three-point makes per game which ranks 10th in the league which is third among A-Sun freshmen.
BUCS ON THE OFFENSIVE
Through 29 games during the 2013-14 season, ETSU is currently averaging 65.4 points per game which is fifth 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 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 27 games this season and is currently averaging 9.6 points and 5.3 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 110-59 (.651) against conference foes since moving into the A-Sun … the Bucs have also won 90 of their last 139 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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