JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 6, 2007) - Despite having three players reach double figures, the Lady Bucs could not overcome Belmont's 20-point halftime lead, and fell 78-69 Saturday afternoon in Memorial Center. ETSU suffered its first conference loss of the season and drop to 7-7, 3-1, while Belmont improves to 9-4, 4-0.
Freshman Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) posted her third career double-double by finishing with a team-high 18 points and 12 rebounds. Georgia native Kelly Turman (Atlanta) came off the bench adding a season-best 18 points, and senior Brooke Wilhoit (Sevierville, Tenn.) scored all 12 of her points in the second half. Belmont's Alysha Clark led all players as she posted her eighth double-double of the season with a season-high 32 points and 14 rebounds.
The Bruins started the game scoring the first eight points, and held the Lady Bucs scoreless on four straight possessions, until a lay up by Evans got ETSU on the board at the 17:47 mark, but two consecutive Tereva Moore jumpers put Belmont back up 12-2.
ETSU would answer right back as they used a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 12-8 as Devin Thompson (Smyrna, Tenn.) drove in for a lay up with 13:26 remaining in the half. However, the four-point deficit would be as close as the Lady Bucs would get all day as Belmont's Moore hit a jumper with 9:17 left before the break, putting the Bruins up double digits for the first time in the game, 25-15. The Lady Bucs would cut the lead back to single digits four times during the next five minutes, but Belmont would fire right back and not let ETSU inch any closer. Belmont closed the half on a 12-1 run during the final 3:11, and took a 46-26 lead into the break.
The Lady Bucs did hold a slight rebounding advantage (23-22) at the break, but hot shooting from Belmont is what hurt ETSU. Belmont shot 53.1 percent (17-32) from the field in the first frame, and held ETSU under 30 percent for half at 28.9 (11-38).
Belmont started the second half with a three-pointer from Amber Rockwell, which gave the Bruins its largest lead of the night at 23, 49-26. During the next three and a half minutes the Lady Bucs went on an 11-2 run, cutting the lead to 51-37 with 15:23 left in the game. Belmont's lead would stay at or around 16 for the next five-plus minutes, until a Wilhoit three-point field goal got ETSU to within 60-50 at the 7:46 mark.
The Bruins quickly went back up 14 thanks to the hot hand of Clark, but two free throws from Latisha Belcher (Ridgeway, Va.) cut the lead back to 10, 66-56 with 3:53 remaining. The Lady Bucs had three golden opportunities to cut the lead even closer, but they could not convert on any of the possessions. A Clark lay up put Belmont back up 12, and put the game away with 2:18 on the clock. Coach Karen Kemp's club never gave up as they got to within seven, but the ETSU rally fell just short.
"We dug ourselves in a huge hole early and it was difficult for us to overcome their 20-point lead at the half, said Kemp. "I am really proud of the way we played in the second half, and thought we still had a chance with four minutes left in the game. However, we just missed a few chances late and they made shots when they needed to."
ETSU did continue its dominance on the boards as they outrebounded the opponent for the fourth straight game (52-42). The Lady Bucs also forced their opponent to turn the ball over 20+ times for the fifth consecutive game, as they made the Bruins put up 23 turnovers. The Bruins finished the game shooting 44.6 percent (25-56) from the field, compared to only 33.8 percent (27-80) for the Lady Bucs. The 80 attempts by ETSU set a season high.
The Lady Bucs hit the road for the first time in 2007 as they make the trip to the Tar Heel state for the third time this season. ETSU will face Campbell on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. From there ETSU will travel to Gardner-Webb for a 2 p.m. tip on Jan. 13.