Dominant second half lifts ETSU past Western Carolina, 73-53
Tianna Tarter scored a game-best 14 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds. (Photo credit: Dakota Hamilton)
Dominant second half lifts ETSU past Western Carolina, 73-53
Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bucs outscore Catamounts 35-15 over final 12 minutes of game

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 5, 2015) – The No. 2 seed ETSU women’s basketball team responded to a one-point halftime deficit with a dominant second half in which it outscored No. 7 seed Western Carolina 47-26 en route to a 73-53 victory on Thursday evening inside Kimmel Arena in the 2015 Southern Conference Women’s Basketball Championship quarterfinals.

With the win, ETSU improves to 20-10 overall, while the Catamounts drop to 11-19 overall. This win marks the Bucs’ first 20-win season since the 2009-10 team went 23-9 overall.

The Bucs will now move on the SoCon Championship semifinals in which they will square off with the No. 3 seed Mercer Bears tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. inside the U.S. Cellular Center. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN3. Click here for ticket information.

After going into halftime trailing, 27-26, the Blue & Gold turned things up a notch over the final 14 minutes of the game. Following facing one of its largest deficits of the game of four points, ETSU fought back to tie the game at 38 with 12:13 to go. From this point, the Bucs manufactured a 12-1 surge over the next two-and-a-half minutes to take control of the game. Turning up the pressure on the Catamounts, the Blue & Gold was able to overpower its opponent and continue to increase its lead. A free-throw conversion from freshman point guard Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.) with a minute and a half to go put ETSU up a game-high 23 points, 71-48, as the Bucs cruised to a 73-53 comeback victory.

Marred by foul trouble in the opening period, the Bucs were unable to establish a solid, consistent offensive rhythm. The team started the game strong, though; leading by eight points in the first six minutes of the contest. Western Carolina answered its sizable deficit with an 8-0 burst tie the game at 13 with 11:33 to go. With the momentum in the Catamounts’ favor, the Blue & Gold battled back but was unable to take back the lead over the rest of the period. The Bucs were able to tie the game on a couple of occasions and a pair of senior forward Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) free throws with 30 seconds remaining in the half broke a 25-22 WCU advantage to send ETSU into halftime trailing, 27-26.

After a slow first half, Tarter broke out in the second with 10 points to give her a game-best 14. Tarter also made her presence felt on the glass with five rebounds and distributed a game-high six assists. Three additional Buccaneers were in double-figures with Bond and sophomore guard Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) each adding 12 points, while senior forward Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) contributed 10. Bond also corralled a game-best 10 rebounds to record her first double-double of the season. Meanwhile, guard Ace Easter led the way for Western Carolina with 13 points while guard Justin Taylor added 11.

Shooting the ball at a 50 percent (27-of-54) clip from the field for the game, the Blue & Gold also knocked down seven three-pointers – including five in the second half – and converted 12-of-15 attempts from the free-throw line. The Bucs dominated in the paint, 30-10, and outrebounded their opponent, 36-28. Additionally, ETSU got out on the fast break for 12 points and saw its bench score 23 points.

Western Carolina was held to 41 percent shooting throughout the game and banged in only three three-pointers. The Catamounts cashed in on only 10-of-22 attempts from the charity stripe and dished out eight assists on 20 made field goals. WCU’s reserves accounted for 17 points in the loss. 

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