The ETSU women’s basketball team opened its regular season on Friday against UNC Asheville coming off a strong win in its exhibition game.

The Bucs won their home opener 74-68.

The Bucs’ offense struggled early, shooting only 17 percent on 1-6 shooting before a timeout was taken at 4:40. Despite shooting at such a low percentage, the Bucs’ defense prevented the Bulldogs from increasing their 5-2 lead.

The Bucs looked out of sorts before senior Shaumaria Bridges knocked down a big three and Carley Lytton hit two free throws to bring the UNC Asheville lead to only 2.

At the end of the first quarter, the Bucs trailed 17-14. Despite only shooting at 31 percent, their defense kept the Bucs in the game.

To start the second quarter, Bridges scored on the opening possession. The Bucs defense soon forced a turnover, and Sadasia Tipps was soon fouled. After she made both free throws, the Bucs took their first lead of the night.

Soon the Bucs’ offense seemed to be clicking right along with their defense. Sophomore Tianna Turner got more aggressive offensively, draining two threes in the second quarter to help the Bucs gain a 26-22 lead.

The Bucs’ offense had more rhythm in the second quarter. The defense of the Bucs was also impressive, forcing Asheville to shoot below 40 percent.

With less than two minutes left in the second quarter, the Bucs’ defense allowed Asheville to go on a 9-0 run. This decreased the Bucs’ lead to 34-32 before they were fouled, only making one of two shots from the line.

At the half, the Bucs shot 43 percent from field goal and three point range, while shooting only 62 percent from the free-throw line. The Bucs went to the line 21 times, putting Asheville in foul trouble early.

The Bucs allowed Asheville to shoot only 34 percent. The Bulldogs’ free throw percentage kept them in the game, shooting 82 percent from the line and making 50 percent from three-point range.

Bridges started the second half off with a three to give the Bucs a 39-35 lead. Asheville decreased the Bucs’ lead to 45-44 before McNeese hit a three to give the Bucs a 48-44 lead.

The Bucs finished the third quarter leading 53-49, scoring on the last possession after Christopher’s assist to Yamile Rodriguez.

Christopher’s offense was just what the Bucs needed to start the fourth quarter. At the media timeout at 6:31, the Bucs led 58-56.

Despite the Bucs’ attempt to pull away, Asheville continued to battle in the paint. After scoring on a foul, Asheville trailed the Bucs 62-60 following a media timeout.

After committing a turnover, Tarter made up for it by scoring after the foul. Asheville soon battled back on a three of their own, trailing by only two. After a quick shot by the Bucs, Asheville scored on a fastbreak layup to tie the game.

Tarter scored on the next possession to give the Bucs the lead again. After a flagrant foul on Asheville, Tarter was injured and unable to finish the game.

McNesse took the flagrant foul shots for Tarter, making one of two shots from the line. She was fouled on the next play, making both free throws and giving the Bucs a 72-68 lead with 10.8 seconds remaining.

The Bucs defended Asheville’s last play, forcing a wild shot with Christopher getting the rebound. She was fouled and made both free throws.

“I think we have post by committee,” said coach Brittney Ezell, “and I think our guards did a great job rebounding the ball.”

Though the Bucs gave a good overall defensive performance, Christopher believes there is room for improvement.

“I think moving forward, we have to improve defensively and work on staying composed when teams put pressure on us,” Christopher said.