ETSU holds WCU to a season opponent-low 22-percent shooting
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 14, 2015) – In a matchup in which each team was held well below their season offensive averages, the ETSU women’s basketball team battled to a 51-40 victory over the Western Carolina Catamounts on Saturday afternoon inside Freedom Hall in the team’s annual Play 4Kay game.
With the win, ETSU sweeps the season series with two wins in a week’s time over WCU and improves to 17-8 overall and 9-1 in Southern Conference action. Meanwhile, Western Carolina drops to 9-16 overall and 1-9 in SoCon play.
To begin, the game’s leading scorer -- sophomore guard Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) -- set the tone with eight points in the first five minutes to give the Bucs a 10-4 advantage. The Catamounts answered, though, with an 11-0 run to move ahead, 15-10, with 11:54 to go in the opening period. ETSU responded to tie the game twice over the next five minutes and took a 21-17 lead on a three-point conversion off of the bench from sophomore guard Adriane Vaughan (Midlothian, Va.) with 3:07 remaining. This triple was an aid in allowing the Blue & Gold to go into halftime with a 23-19 advantage.
Per usual, the Bucs came out of halftime energized and increased their lead to eight, 31-23, on a senior guard Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) trifecta with 13:06 left in the contest. Much like the first half, the visiting team responded with an 8-0 surge to deadlock the game at 31 with 11:49 remaining. The two teams battled closely over the next four minutes before WCU’s Ace Easter canned a jumper with 7:43 to go to give the Catamounts a 35-34 advantage. ETSU quickly answered, though, with a 7-0 run over the next minute and a half to take a 41-35 advantage. With their lead reduced to four points, freshman point guard Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.) drained a huge three-pointer with 2:56 remaining to allow the Blue & Gold to take a firm hold on the contest. A 6-2 ETSU burst to close the game brought the final score to 51-40 in favor of the home team.
Bridges paced all scorers with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting including 3-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc. In addition, senior forward Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.) added a near double-double of seven points and nine rebounds while fellow senior forward Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) grabbed a game-best 13 rebounds in only 27 minutes of play. For the Catamounts, senior guard Justin Taylor led the way with nine points while Ace Easter and Erika Joseph each added eight.
Coming into the game averaging a league-leading 71 points per game, the Blue & Gold were held to 35 percent shooting, but countered this struggle by limiting a WCU team that averages 63 points a contest to 22 percent shooting and only allowing two made three-pointers. ETSU also got 12 points both in the paint and from its bench, and assisted on 11 of its 17 made field goals.
Western Carolina was able to turn the Bucs over 14 times, resulting in 15 points, and also totaled 12 points in the paint. In addition, the Catamounts knocked down 12-of-18 from the free-throw line.
The Bucs will hit the road as conference play winds down with a trip to Greensboro, North Carolina to take on the UNCG Spartans on Monday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m.
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