Coming into the SoCon Tournament, the ETSU women’s basketball team had a 16-14 record, losing three games coming into the tournament. With this record, they were able to claim the No. 4 seed and face the No. 5-seed Furman, who they split the regular season series with.
In the first half, the Bucs and Furman played fairly even. Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, FL) was very efficient, making four of nine from field goal and 50 percent from the three-point line. She was able to give the Bucs 11 points in the first half, playing all 20 minutes.
Her backcourt partner Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, TN) was just as efficient. She made five of eight, scoring 11 points, while playing all 20 first half minutes. As a team, the Bucs played great defense, forcing Furman to shoot 41.9 percent. However, they allowed Furman to have a plus-eight rebounding advantage.
“Last year’s and this year’s group couldn’t be any different with the makeup of the team,” said coach Brittney Ezell. “The No. 4 and No. 5 seed match up is the best game of the tournament.”
In the second half, the Bucs offense struggled. They shot 36.1 percent from field goal. Despite Bridges adding nine points, she shot 40 percent with tired legs, playing all 20 minutes in the second half.
Tarter added 14 points on four for twelve shooting. She also grabbed seven rebounds.
After a quiet first half, Chandler Christopher (Greeneville, TN) got her offense going, scoring 10 of her 13 points in the half on four for nine shooting. The Bucs’ “Big 3” combined for 58 points.
The Bucs ran into a problem dealing with Furman’s top two scorers from the first half, who continued to dominate. Whitney Bunn and Holli Wilkins of Furman combined for 23 points in the first half and 25 in the second half. More importantly, they were efficient in the way they scored.
The Bucs won the turnover battle, committing a season-low seven turnovers, but Furman was able to out rebound the Bucs 39-31. When it came down to the wire, the Bucs put themselves in a great position to send the game into overtime, but the shot just didn’t fall.
“I thought our kids battled and competed and I’m proud of them,” Ezell said. “If the people writing about us or follow us knew what this team had to go through just to get here, then you’d be on your feet in applause.”
The Bucs will return the majority of their team for next season and are bringing in a good recruiting class.