After a close 61-56 win over Samford on Thursday, the Bucs were prepared and wanted to come out even stronger in another home match against the Mercer University Bears, but they were unable to rise up.
The Bucs had previously lost to Mercer on their home court at the very beginning of Southern Conference play, 72-55, and were hoping to narrow in on some of their mistakes there to help in this game.
However, by the end of the first quarter, the Bucs only had three points up on the board compared to Mercer’s 23 points.
The second quarter seemed promising as ETSU outscored Mercer 19-8, but the Bucs were still behind going into halftime with the score being 31-22.
This was the opportunity for the Bucs to take possession under their control but they did not take advantage of that.
ETSU came close to a comeback in the fourth quarter, narrowing the Mercer lead to four, but ended up falling short and losing their first home SoCon game, 71-56.
“I’m always proud of their resiliency,” said Head Coach Brittney Ezell. “I don’t think they ever quit but this just wasn’t out best effort.”
Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.) put up 15 points for the Bucs, the game-high. Teammate Raven Dean (Charlotte, N.C.) also dropped 15 points and had 10 rebounds, making this her third double-double of the season as a sophomore.
Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.) had 12 points, five rebounds and five assists this game, but everything together was just not enough.
Despite the effort from some, overall, Ezell was disappointed knowing the total team effort could have been better, especially in situations that were in need of hustle.
“I didn’t think we got a good effort tonight top to bottom,” Ezell said.
It is hard to scramble and play from behind, a situation the Bucs did not need to get into this late into the SoCon season. This scrambling led to the lack of communication and tiredness in the first half that carried over in spurts into the second half.
Also lacking were the small points that add up. The Bucs went 13-25 at the free throw line and 19-62 in the field goal range, namely missing layups. Ezell considers this embarrassing and a wake up call for her team, as they move to 6-3 in the conference and come down from a five-game winning streak. Mercer is now 7-2.
There are only five games remaining until the SoCon quarterfinals, and the Bucs have to be determined to win on the road.