On Tuesday night, the Bucs met with the Lady Vols in Johnson City for the first time since 1981.
The mini-dome was filled from end-to-end with 6,072 fans, a record-breaking attendance for women’s basketball here at ETSU.
Compared to Head Coach Brittney Ezell’s first game four years ago, with only 58 fans in the mini-dome, this game was a huge testament to the program and the work of her team.
The UT Lady Vols are ranked 13th, and regardless of size or number the Bucs went into the game with an open mind unafraid of a big competition.
“It’s just another team that we’re getting to play,” said starting guard Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.).
The Bucs caught 14 offensive rebounds from the Vols, who are nationally recognized as one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
In the first half, the Bucs got off to a strong start with shots by Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) and Tarter, but the Vols switching defensive strategies threw them off balance and seemingly deflated confidence for a time.
The Vols were able to pull away in the last 5 minutes of the half when the Bucs went scoreless.
In the third and fourth quarters, the Bucs were only behind in scoring 20-15 and 17-16.
The Bucs mainly fell flat when it came to turnovers. In the end, the Vols turned the ball over 16 times and the Bucs only 14.
The difference was the Vols were capitalizing on these opportunities and the Bucs fell short. UT scored 22 points off of turnovers, and ETSU only 9 points.
Despite the score ending up 83-58, both Coach Ezell and UT Head Coach Holly Warlick commented on the relentlessness of this Buccaneer team.
“I am never going to question our player’s effort and anybody that watched the game never will either,” said Coach Ezell.
Coach Ezell also commented on Tarter, who accounted for 12 of the Bucs 58 points.
Ezell said Tarter has a gift and a love for the game that she only wishes she could teach to players.
“She’s the heartbeat,” Ezell said. “She really is, and it’s really fun sometimes as a coach to watch her.”
Micah Norris (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), a junior and a guard subbed in for Tarter, accounted for 13 of the Bucs points against the Vols and provided great energy when on the court. Overall, 31 points came off the bench for ETSU.
The energy inside the dome will hopefully be replicated on Sunday, Nov. 22 as the Bucs host the Winthrop University Eagles in Brooks Gym.