Bucs’ eight wins before New Year this season is best start since 1980-81
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Jan. 1, 2015) – Following picking up its eighth win of the season on Monday versus Iona, the ETSU women’s basketball team will end non-conference play on Friday when it goes on the road to face the No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels at 2 p.m. inside Carmichael Arena.
The two teams will square off in the 15th all-time meeting; a series that UNC leads, 14-0. The Bucs (8-6) and the Tar Heels (12-1) last met on Dec. 28, 2012 when UNC prevailed 85-44 in Chapel Hill. In the loss, forward Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.) added nine points and six rebounds, while guard Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) contributed nine points and six rebounds off of the bench. Additionally, forward Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) ripped down a game-high 10 rebounds.
ETSU’s eight wins before the start of the New Year this season is the most since the Bucs went 8-1 before Jan. 1, 1981 to begin the 1980-81 campaign. The 1980-81 squad went on to post a 20-10 overall record under head coach Susan Yow.
The Blue & Gold will look to continue the momentum after knocking off the Iona Gaels, 76-64, on Monday evening inside Brooks Gym to snap a two-game losing skid. After going into halftime trailing 42-32, the Bucs stormed out of the break to start the second half with a 23-2 surge which ultimately propelled them to victory. ETSU was clicking on all cylinders offensively in the second half including being incredibly efficient with 17-of-23 makes (74 percent) from the field on 11 assists. For the fourth time this season, the Bucs featured five players with double-digit scoring performances; led by 16 points from freshman point guard Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.).
The nationally-ranked Tar Heels will enter Friday’s contest winners of three in a row, most recently a 71-56 home win against Albany on Tuesday afternoon. Sophomore guard Jessica Washington came off the bench to tie a career high with 16 points while Allisha Gray added 15 and Stephanie Mavunga had 14 for UNC. The home team will be without the services of All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) junior forward Xylina McDaniel who is sidelined indefinitely with an injury to her lower right leg. McDaniel started the first 12 games of the season, averaging 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds. This preseason, North Carolina was selected to finish fourth in the 15-team ACC.
The Bucs continue to lead the Southern Conference (SoCon) in scoring offense at 72.8 points, field goal percentage at 45 percent, and three-point field goal percentage defense at 26 percent per game. Furthermore, ETSU’s three-point defense ranks 30th and its field goal percentage stands 37th overall in NCAA Division I. The Blue & Gold also places among the top three in the league in scoring margin (+3.4), three-point field goal percentage (36 percent), rebounding margin (+0.5), and blocked shots (4.1).
Four of ETSU’s five starters are averaging double-figures; highlighted by sophomore guard Shamauria Bridges’ (Miramar, Fla.) 13.8 points per contest. Bridges’ points-per-game average ranks fourth-best in the league and her 3.0 three-point makes per game is tops in the conference and is 17th-best in the country. In addition, senior Mitchell’s 9.1 rebounds per contest – including 3.9 offensive boards per -- is second in the SoCon and Tarter’s 3.6 assists per contest ranks second in the league. Moreover, Mitchell and senior forward Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) rank two-three in the SoCon in field goal percentage at 56 and 54 percent, respectively.
For more information on ETSU women’s basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the women’s hoops link. Season tickets can be purchased here. Follow along with the Bucs on social media with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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