ETSU holds off Bears to remain perfect in SoCon play
MACON, Ga. (Jan. 26, 2015) – Leading by nine points with 5:15 remaining in the game, the ETSU women’s basketball team weathered a late rally from the Mercer Bears to come away with a 72-70 victory in a pivotal Southern Conference road matchup on Monday evening inside Hawkins Arena.
With the win, ETSU improves to 13-7 overall and moves to a perfect 5-0 in Southern Conference play while Mercer drops to 11-10 overall and 3-2 in conference action.
After going into halftime with a 29-25 advantage, the Blue & Gold put together a 10-6 burst over the first three minutes of the second half to take an eight-point, 39-31, advantage. Throughout the period, the Bucs repeatedly had answers for the Bears’ comeback attempts. Aiding in thwarting rallies from MU was sophomore guard Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) knocking down five three-pointers during the half. Over the final 5:15 of the contest, Mercer outscored ETSU 15-8 and appeared to have the momentum going into the final possessions of the game. A basket from the Bears’ guard Precious Bridges with 40 seconds left brought the score to 72-70. A subsequent empty offensive possession for the Bucs gave MU the ball with eight seconds to go. After driving the length of the floor, a desperation shot attempt from Bridges fell errant with no time remaining which allowed ETSU to escape with a 72-70 triumph.
Early on in the game, it looked as though the Blue & Gold may run away with the win. The Bucs jumped out to an 18-8 advantage with 13:37 to go in the opening period behind senior forward Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) powering down low and freshman point guard Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.) making plays on both ends of the floor. The Blue & Gold built up a game-high 12-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the half, but the home team did not go away lightly. The Bears outscored ETSU 12-4 over the duration of the first half to bring the score to 29-25 at halftime.
In the win, ETSU was led by 20 points – including a career-high six three-pointers – from Bridges. The Bucs also got a second-consecutive double-double from Mitchell with 14 points and 12 rebounds and had both senior forward Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Tarter record 11 points. For Mercer, guard Bridges scored a game-best 23 points while guard Kahlia Lawrence added 22.
After starting the game hot, the Bucs cooled down a bit over the duration of the first half. ETSU got back on track in the second by knocking down 17-of-32 field goals to bring its final total to 44-percent shooting. The Blue & Gold had a presence in the paint with 34 points and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 16 points. The Bucs also had 13 assists on 27 made field goals.
Meanwhile, Mercer shot the ball at an even 50 percent in the second period and 41 percent for the game. The Bears also knocked down 12-of-16 free throws and converted 18 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points. In addition, MU got out on the fast break for 12 points.
The Bucs will continue SoCon play at home on Saturday when they welcome Samford to Brooks Gym at 2 p.m.
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