Christopher is late-game hero in tightly-contested conference opener for both teams
GREENVILLE, S.C. (Jan. 10, 2015) – After increasing its lead to as many as 17 points with 12:30 to go in the second half, the ETSU women’s basketball team weathered a home-team rally from Furman and sealed victory on a pair free throws from junior guard Chandler Christopher (Greeneville, Tenn.) with two seconds to play to come away with a 73-72 win on Saturday afternoon inside Timmons Arena.
With the win, ETSU improves to 9-7 overall and moves to 1-0 in Southern Conference play while Furman drops to 11-6 overall and 0-1 in league action.
Following an up-and-down opening period in which the Bucs took a 38-34 advantage into halftime, the Blue & Gold came out firing in the second. After scoring one point in the first half, senior guard Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) caught fire to begin the half with 13 points in the first five-and-a-half minutes. Over the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the period, ETSU put together a 23-10 surge to pull ahead by a game-high 17 points. Facing a large deficit, the Paladins did not go away lightly and responded with an 11-0 run to bring the score to 61-55 with seven minutes left to play. The two teams battled back-and-forth down the stretch with FU tying the game, 67-67, on an and-one conversion by Holli Wilkins with 1:19 to go. The two teams traded the lead over the next minute before -- faced with a 72-71 deficit -- Christopher attacked the basket and got to the free-throw line where she sunk both with two seconds remaining. A desperation heave at the buzzer from Furman was errant as the Bucs held on for a 73-72 win.
A tightly-contested first half featured four lead changes and seemed to be a precursor for an exciting finish. In the opening period, the Bucs faced a 15-14 deficit but put together a 6-0 run to take a 20-15 lead. ETSU even accumulated a first-half high 10-point lead with 4:34 to go, but the Paladins surged ahead with an 11-5 rally to bring the score to 38-34 going into the break. Shooting 51 percent (18-of-35) from the field and posting 22 points in the paint in the half were valuable tools in allowing the Bucs to take a lead into halftime.
Freshman point guard Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.) scored a game-high 21 points and was joined in double-figures by Bowling with a season-high 16, late-game hero Christopher with 12 and redshirt senior forward Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) with 10. In addition, redshirt senior forward Serena Clark contributed eight points and a game-best 12 rebounds. Meanwhile, Furman also featured four players with double-digit scoring performances, led by guard Whitney Bunn and forward Holli Wilkins each with 19 points.
For the game, ETSU shot an even 50 percent (29-of-58) from the field and were 3-of-7 from three in the second half. The Bucs also scored 30 points in the paint, got 22 points from their bench, and knocked down 11-of-12 free throws.
The Paladins shot the ball at a 41 percent (27-of-66) clip over the course of the contest, but were 9-of-21 beyond the arc and buried only 9-of-16 from the charity stripe. FU also turned 13 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points and racked up 12 assists.
The Bucs will continue league play on the road when it travels to Spartanburg, South Carolina to face the Wofford Terriers on Monday, Jan. 12, at 11:30 a.m.
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