Evans pours in a career high 35, Lady Bucs win wild one in Spartanburg
Monday, February 23, 2009

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Feb. 23, 2009) - In a game that saw 10 ties and 22 lead changes, the Lady Bucs were finally able to inch away from the Spartans late in the game thanks to Siarre Evans' (Griffin, Ga.) career high 35-point effort, which propelled ETSU to a 90-84 conference victory Monday night inside the G.B. Hodge Center.


To go with Evans' 35 points, the Griffin, Ga. native also tallied her fifth straight double-double (15th of the season), as she finished with 11 rebounds, five steals and two assists in her second straight contest of playing the entire 40 minutes. Evans finished 11-of-21 from the floor and hit a career best six 3-pointers, while going a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.


With the win, ETSU capped off a perfect 4-0 road swing and moved its record to 17-9, 15-3 in A-Sun play. The 15 conference victories also set a new program-best and the Lady Bucs kept their hopes alive for a second straight regular season title. ETSU now trails FGCU by a half-game for first-place in the league race. Meanwhile, Upstate lost its fourth straight game and dropped to 11-16, 6-12.


Fortunately the junior trio of Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.), TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) and Evans showed up in Spartanburg to start the first eight minutes of the game, as they accounted for the entire Lady Buccaneer offense. The three standout players scored the first 17 points for ETSU and the Lady Bucs trailed by one heading into the under 12 media timeout.


Finally, Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) joined the fun, and the Lady Bucs used a plethora of 3-pointers to build a 32-21 advantage after Pickwell drained her second trey of the game at the 7:36 mark. In total, ETSU sank five threes in a span of four minutes - which also included Evans nailing one from the corner and Davis recorded two clutch triples.


However, the Spartans followed the Lady Buccaneer act, and Upstate had last laugh during the final seven minutes of the half, as Upstate closed out the juncture on a 24-7 run to take a 45-39 lead into the locker room.


Upstate connected on five triples in that run and Courtney Hawkins capped things off when her desperation three-pointer from the top of the key banked off the glass and dropped in at the buzzer, marking her 20th point of the contest and fifth trey.


Despite one brief run, the Lady Bucs were dominated in every facet over the first 20 minutes. The Spartans connected on 9 of their 15 3-point attempts (60 percent) and shot 45.5 percent from the floor (15-33). Meanwhile, ETSU did drain eight threes in the opening 20 minutes and shot 46.9 percent (15-32) from the field, but 10 turnovers and dismal free throw shooting shot ETSU in the foot. Upstate scored 17 points off the Lady Buccaneer miscues and went to the line six more times than ETSU. The Spartans finished 6-of-10 from the charity stripe, compared to ETSU's 1-for-4 showing.


ETSU quickly erased its six-point halftime deficit in the first three minutes and thirty-eight seconds of the second half and grabbed a 48-47 lead after Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) sank one of two free throws.


The lead didn't last long as Upstate went on a 9-3 run to regain a 56-51 advantage with 12:57 left to play.


Then, when the Lady Bucs need some stops, Evans and Belcher stepped up at critical points in the game.


With ETSU down 58-55, Evans picked Kolesia Richardson's pocket for an easy lay-in, then on the next possession, Belcher took a pass away from Hawkins and went coast-to-coast to put the Lady Bucs back up 59-58 at the 10 minute mark.


From there the game became a battle as there were five ties and 12 lead changes from the 9:28 mark to 2:57 remaining in the contest; however, Belcher's jumper with two and half to play left put ETSU ahead for good, 81-79.


The Lady Bucs were able to push their lead up to four, but a Kendra Wallace 3-pointer with 37 ticks left made it an 85-84 contest. But coming out of a full time out by Upstate, Washington hit Wiles with a home run pass and the lay-up put ETSU back up three. The score ended any chance of a Spartan comeback and the Lady Bucs held on for the six-point win.


ETSU set season highs with 33 made field goals, 12 3-pointers and 24 assists on Monday night. For the second time this season the Lady Bucs also eclipsed the 50 percent threshold from the field. The Spartans also connected on 12 treys and shot 43.3 percent from the field (29-67). Upstate won the rebounding battle - 44 to 35.


Wiles, Belcher and Davis also scored in double figures for the Lady Bucs. Wiles netted 19 points and blocked three shots, while Belcher ended with 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and seven steals in 37 minutes. Rounding things out was Davis' 11-point, 8-assist, 5-rebound performance.


Upstate had four players scoring in double figures with Hawkins leading the pack with 26 points.    


After closing out a four-game road swing, the Lady Bucs return home to close out the regular season, beginning Thursday against Kennesaw State. Tip time is set for 4:45 p.m. and the game will be ETSU's "Pink Zone" contest.


For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.