Bucs and Mocs to square off for SoCon tournament title, automatic bid to NCAA Tournament
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 7, 2015) – The top-two teams in the Southern Conference will square off on Sunday when the No. 2 seed ETSU women’s basketball team faces the No. 1 seed Chattanooga Mocs in the SoCon Championship final at 1 p.m. inside the U.S. Cellular Center. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.
The winner of the contest takes the 2015 SoCon Championship title and receives an automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. A victory would mark ETSU’s fourth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2010. In addition, the Bucs are seeking their first-ever SoCon Tournament title in its 46-year history.
The two teams have a history in the SoCon Tournament as the Bucs knocked off the No. 1 seed Mocs, 55-50, on March 3, 2005 in ETSU’s last appearance in the SoCon tournament before its 10-year stay in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Chattanooga (28-3) leads the all-time series, 55-21, and has won the last five meetings against ETSU (21-10). Most recently, UTC defeated the Bucs, 64-42, on Feb. 28 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Last time out
ETSU grinded out a 66-56 victory over the No. 3 seed Mercer Bears on Friday afternoon in the SoCon Championship semifinals. The Bucs had three players record double-doubles including a team-best 16 points and 11 rebounds from senior forward Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.), while freshman point guard Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.) totaled 15 points, a game and season-high 15 rebounds, and six assists. Senior forward Serena Clark (Stone Mountain, Ga.) contributed a double-double performance of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Bucs at a glance
ETSU’s balance on the offensive end continues with four of its five starters averaging in double figures. The Bucs are led by underclassmen guards Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) (12.9 ppg) and Tarter (12.3 ppg, 4.1 apg). Senior forwards Mitchell (11.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and Clark (10.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg) round out the double-figure scorers for the Bucs who are also getting solid play from fellow veteran forward Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) (8.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg).
Chattanooga at a glance
The No. 17 Mocs have won 24-consecutive games including, most recently, a 68-55 win over Furman in the SoCon Championship semifinals. UTC features two First-Team All-SoCon selections in Chelsey Shumpert and Jasmine Joyner. Joyner paces the Mocs with 12.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, while Shumpert adds 11.5 points a contest. Additionally, freshman Keiana Gilbert was named to the SoCon All-Freshmen Team with season averages of 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, while Alicia Payne was named SoCon Defensive Player of the Year.
Inside the numbers
The Blue & Gold features the SoCon’s top offense with 68.8 points per game, while Chattanooga slows the pace down a bit with 63.4 points a contest. The Mocs counter with the SoCon’s best defense, allowing only 50.3 points a game. Both teams shoot the ball at an impressive rate with the squads ranking one-two in the conference in field goal percentage. ETSU enters play with a better rebounding margin (+2.2), while UTC dishes out a league-best 14.4 assists per game.
Four Bucs earn SoCon postseason awards
Senior forward Serena Clark was named Second-Team All-Conference by both the SoCon head coaches and media, while senior forward Destiny Mitchell was picked by the coaches as a Second Team honoree and sophomore guard Shamauria Bridges a member of the Second Team tabbed by the media. In addition, freshman point guard Tianna Tarter was selected to the All-Freshmen Team by both the league coaches and media.
Ezell notches 150th Victory
ETSU’s 66-56 victory over Mercer on Thursday in the SoCon Championship semifinals marked Brittney Ezell’s 150th win in her 10th season as a head coach.
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