Kemp notches 200th career win as Lady Bucs knock off Eagles, 75-67
Thursday, January 8, 2009

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2009) - Four Lady Buccaneer players scored in double figures and the ETSU women's basketball team used a solid second-half to rally past Florida Gulf Coast, 75-67, delivering head coach Karen Kemp her 200th career victory Thursday night inside Alico Arena.


Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) scored a game-high 18 points and collected five rebounds and four steals, while fellow junior Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals in 40 minutes of action. TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) came through in a big way in the second half, as she scored all 10 of her points in the final 20 minutes and grabbed seven rebounds. Rounding out the Lady Buccaneer scoring attack was the play of sophomore point guard Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). Davis pitched in with 11 points off the bench, including a key stretch in the second half where she scored five points in two seconds to give ETSU some breathing room.


The special win for coach Kemp lifts the Lady Bucs to the .500 mark for the first time this season, with ETSU moving to 6-6, 4-1 in A-Sun play. The Eagles suffered their second straight loss and drop to 9-4, 2-3.


In the first half, ETSU opened up with four unanswered points two minutes into the contest, but the Eagles quickly responded with a 5-0 run to grab a 5-4 lead at the 16:52 mark. Four straight points by Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) put the Lady Bucs back up, but a 13-4 run by FGCU gave them momentum and an 18-12 advantage. The 3-point shot and ETSU foul trouble sparked the rally, as the Eagles drained three treys during the blitz; while Washington and Wiles each tallied two fouls in the first six minutes. 


The Lady Bucs weren't bothered by the spurt, as they quickly put the pressure back on the Eagles by regaining the lead (25-21) with a 13-3 run of its own from the 10-minute mark to 6:39 remaining in half. The run was a well-balanced attack, with five different ETSU players scoring during the frenzy.


Unfortunately the Lady Bucs became lazy on offense, as they turned the ball over four times in the next five possessions, and FGCU used the mistakes to recapture the lead. The Eagles mounted yet another 13-4 run and led, 34-29, after Chelsea Lyles hit a pair of free throws with 1:52 left before the break. ETSU had a chance to even the game up before halftime, but Davis' turnover at half court gave Courtney Chilhil an easy lay-up and the Eagles went into the locker room up, 37-33.


ETSU shot 43.5 percent (10-23) in the first 20 minutes, while the Eagles were slightly better at 48.1 percent (13-27). Turnovers and free throws played a significant role in the half. ETSU turned the ball over 14 times - leading to 20 points on the offensive end for FGCU - while 13 personal fouls put the Eagles to the line 15 times to ETSU's nine. The Eagles hit 13 freebies and ETSU connected on six.


The second half started just like the first 20 minutes, as ETSU scored the first four points, but a 3-pointer by Shannon Murphy and an Adrianne McNally lay-up put FGCU back up 42-37 heading into the first media timeout at the 15:43 mark. FGCU built a six point lead, but six consecutive Lady Buccaneer points tied that game at 45, when Wiles sank a jumper with 13:30 left on the clock.


With FGCU leading 51-50 and 11:31 remaining, ETSU built a five-point cushion (58-53) after Wiles nailed another jumper at the 8:21 mark and the Eagles never led from there. The Eagles narrowed the deficit to one, 58-57, but (Tara) Davis stepped up in a big way. In a two-second span the Murfreesboro, Tenn. native put the Lady Bucs up six, 63-57, by scoring five unanswered points. Davis hit two free throws, forced a steal on the FGCU inbounds pass, nailed a lay-up and hit another freebie in that spectacular span.   


The Davis spark looked to be the final blow the Eagles were going to take, but FGCU got to within one on two different possessions. However, with ETSU leading 66-65 at the 3:18 mark, the Lady Bucs finished the contest on a 9-2 run to pick up their third straight conference victory.


Sophomore guard Kami Phillips (Augusta, Ga.) stepped up down the stretch, by sinking three free throws in the final minutes, while Evans also drained a pair as well.


ETSU shot a season-high 51.9 percent from the floor (27-52) and went 14-of-25 (56 percent) in the second half. The Eagles shot 36.5 percent (19-52), but were 7-for-26 from beyond the arc. The Lady Buccaneers outrebounded FGCU, 36 to 29, and forced the Eagles into 24 turnovers - which were converted into 28 points. ETSU played unselfish ball for the entire game, as they tallied 17 assists and the bench contributed with 20 points.


The game totaled seven ties and eight lead changes.


Washington capped off a solid night, ending with eight points (4-of-4 from the free throw line) and three rebounds, while junior Devin Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) also came up big off the bench. Thompson scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in 12 minutes of action.  


The Eagles were led by McNally's 18 points, while Shannon Murphy and Chelsea Lyles each scored 14.


The Lady Bucs return to action on Saturday, Jan. 10, when they travel to DeLand, Fla. and face Stetson. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. inside the Edmunds Center.


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