The ETSU Lady Bucs basketball team faced off against Atlantic Sun foe Jacksonville Monday night in the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center. After a tough loss to North Florida on Saturday, the Lady Bucs looked to bounce back and earn their first home win since Dec. 2. The Lady Bucs dominated the game to beat Jacksonville, 74-57.
“It always feels good to get a win especially because we have been on a losing streak,” said Serena Clark. “We were the bigger team so we just drove the ball into them.”
The Lady Bucs fell short of a comeback against North Florida on Saturday and looked to remain in contention for the A-Sun conference tournament and a chance for the berth into the NCAA tournament. Coming into Monday’s game against Jacksonville, the Lady Bucs were in eighth place in the conference at the half-way mark for conference play.
ETSU jumped out to an early lead over the Dolphins on strong inside play and a defense that kept Jacksonville from finding a good shot. After the first four minutes, ETSU was leading, 11-2. Jacksonville finally started to show signs of life as the half progressed, but ETSU continued to roll offensively, stretching the early lead to double digits, 19-8, ETSU.
With Jacksonville struggling to find an answer for the Bucs’ size, ETSU continued to drive into the lane for easy points in the paint, surging to a 41-20 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the half. The Dolphins looked to close the gap in the ETSU lead before half, but the comeback fell flat as the Dolphins only cut the lead to 18, 43-25, ETSU at halftime.
Both teams struggled to start the second half with neither team having any luck getting past the opposing defense or being able to find quality looks from the floor. The Dolphins tried to speed up the tempo of the game to forcing the Lady Bucs to make mistakes, before ETSU was able to slow the pace down again, 49-32, Buccaneers.
Both teams continued to struggle to find points early in the second half, combining for 15 points in the first five minutes of the second half.
Mistakes in the second half kept the Lady Bucs from stretching the lead past 21 but strong defense also kept the Dolphins from getting back in the game, 60-44, ETSU. Jacksonville made a late push with under seven minutes remaining, cutting the ETSU lead to under 20 before the Lady Bucs bounced back to stretch the lead back to 20, 68-48.
Jacksonville again tried to mount a comeback, cutting the lead back down to 15, but the Lady Bucs had seen enough and were not going to let the Dolphins back into the game. ETSU stretched the lead back to 19 and cruised to a comfortable 74-57 win.
“I wasn’t playing my game I needed to be playing at the beginning of the year, but coach [Karen] Kemp talked to me and I put effort into my game,” said Tiana Burley. “We are going to work harder because of this win and give our all on game days.”
The Lady Bucs were led by red-shirt sophomore Burley with a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double.
Also getting in on the action, junior Destiny Mitchell with 10 points and red-shirt sophomore Serena Clark with 11 points. ETSU found the majority of their points in the paint, scoring 50 of their 74 points there and 26 points on second chance shots.
The Lady Bucs continued to struggle at the free-throw line, hitting 11 of 17, 64.7 percent, but in the second half went 9 of 10 at the charity stripe. ETSU improves to 3-6 in conference at the halfway mark of the conference play. The Lady Bucs remain at home for their next two games, Saturday against Lipscomb and then they face A-Sun newcomer Northern Kentucky next Monday.
“Our effort the last couple of games has been good but just short of what is needed,” said Kemp. “We got the lead tonight and we never let up on them and that has been a problem for us in the past is getting a lead and letting the opponents get back into the game.”