Lady Bucs' first half run too much for USC Upstate to overcome, 80-68
Monday, January 26, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 26, 2009) - The ETSU women's basketball team hit USC Upstate with an 18-0 run midway throughout the first half and that proved to be the difference maker, as the Lady Bucs hung on to win their ninth straight conference victory, 80-68, Monday evening inside Memorial Center.


ETSU (11-7, 9-1) has now won its last four games and moved its home conference winning streak to 12 in row. More importantly, the Lady Bucs' two-game lead for first place in the league standings remained intact. With the loss, Upstate dropped to 9-9, 4-6.


The Lady Bucs were led by the three-headed monster of Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.), TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) and Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.). The junior trio accounted for 54 of ETSU's 80 points and 32 of its 50 rebounds. Evans notched her ninth double-double this season (24th of her career) after ending with 20 points and 13 rebounds; while Wiles also sang the tune of double vision for the first time in her career. The Danville, Va. native finished with 20 points and a career-high 11 rebounds in 32 minutes of action. Rounding out the scoring attack was Belcher's 14-point, 8-rebound effort.


"I wasn't pleased with our effort tonight and thought we played flat," commented head coach Karen Kemp, who tallied her 51st Atlantic Sun Conference win. "An ugly win is better than a pretty loss, but we need to start playing 40 minutes of basketball against every opponent we face from this point forward."


After getting off to sluggish start in the opening six minutes of the first half, coach Kemp burned a 30-second timeout, and from that point the Lady Bucs came out with a bang. With USC Upstate leading 9-8 at the 13:19 mark, ETSU held the Spartans scoreless for the next five-plus minutes and scored 18 unanswered points to grab a 26-9 lead after Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) sank one of her two free throw attempts with 8:01 remaining in the half. USC Upstate's Sam Frost ended the drought by converting a pair of free throws at the 7:47 mark, and the Spartans used a brief run to cut the deficit to 12, 32-20, but that was as close as the visitors would get. The Lady Bucs showcased its long-range shooting and closed out the final 4:49 on a 13-4 run to take a 45-24 lead into the locker room. During the final run ETSU drained three of its six first-half 3-pointers.


In the first half, ETSU made 12 more shots than the Spartans (19 to 7) and five more 3-pointers (6 to 1). The Lady Bucs shot 43.2 percent (19-44), compared to Upstate's frigid 23.3 percent (7-30). ETSU also held a plus-12 margin on the glass - 32 to 20 - with Evans recording seven of her 13 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.


ETSU looked to run the Spartans out of the Dome in the opening six minutes of the second half, as the Lady Bucs saw their lead balloon to 28, 60-32, after Evans nailed a jumper with 12:59 left in the game. However, Upstate never folded and slowly chipped away over the next seven and half minutes. The Spartans used a 27-9 spurt to cut the margin to 10 (69-59) with 5:15 left on the clock.


Upstate continued to plug away and got to within nine on two separate possessions, but ETSU closed out the final minutes on a 6-1 run to walk away with the 12-point win.


For the game ETSU shot 44.4 percent and tied a season high with 32 made field goals. Upstate was limited to a 31.3 clip (21-67), but did a lot of its damage at the free throw line. The Spartans were 21-of-26 at the charity stripe, compared to the Lady Bucs' 9-for-14 showing. ETSU did do a solid job distributing the basketball and finding the open shooter as they finished with 19 assists.


With Evans' 20 points and 13 rebounds, the Griffin, Ga. native moved passed Amy Engle for 14th all-time on the ETSU scoring list and also jumped ahead of Tiffani Mayes for 11th on the career rebounding charts. Evans now has 1,073 career points and is only six points short of passing Kim Skala for 13th on the scoring charts, and Evans also has accumulated 643 career rebounds.


USC Upstate had four players score in double figures and was led by Kendra Wallace's 19 points.


The Lady Bucs now head down to Florida and face Jacksonville on Thursday night. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside Swisher Gym.


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