Tension surrounded Brooks Gym last Friday night.
After ending the first half of the game ahead of the Chattanooga Mocs, 31-25, things looked good for the Bucs to get a win against the Mocs at home. Earlier in the season, both teams competed in Chattanooga where the Mocs defeated the Bucs, 60-45.
The fans knew this would be exciting, as 1,316 came out to see the Southern Conference rivalry in the “Gold Out” game in Brooks gym.
At the end of the first half, both teams were shooting around 40 percent. ETSU with 40 percent exactly and UTC ahead by 6.2 percent. Neither team shot well from the 3-point line as UTC finished the first half only making one out of eight attempts, and ETSU finishing three out of 11 attempts.
However, ETSU did have the upper advantage in free-throws. Despite shooting 57.1 percent, the Bucs finished four shots from the free-throw line compared to UTC’s 0.
Another positive for the Bucs in the first half was their defense. The Bucs caused nine turnovers in the first half alone.
The Trio of Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.), Raven Dean (Charlotte, N.C.) and Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.), who played all 40 minutes, contributed to 26 of the 31 points on the first half.
After halftime, Chattanooga came out on fire.
The Mocs went on a 26-8 run and made 60 percent of their shots.
The Bucs were not able to match the shooting performance of the Mocs, as ETSU shot 15.8 percent from the field in the third quarter allowing a 51-39 lead for Chattanooga entering the final quarter.
The Bucs got things going in the fourth quarter, outscoring Chattanooga 10-0 at the start and shooting 41.6 percent for the quarter.
“I’ve never questioned the resiliency of this group,” said Head Coach Brittney Ezell. “I think anyone who has interviewed me or interviewed our kids … ‘they’re going to fight, they’re going to play hard, there is no lay down to them’ and I respect that immensely.”
The Mocs once again responded and went on an 8-0 run of their own. The Bucs continued to fight until the finish, but field goals at the end of the game sealed the deal for Chattanooga.
Bridges led the Bucs with a game-high 24 points.
“We’ll take some good things from this and we will watch the film tonight,” Ezell said. “Come back tomorrow and be ready to start prep on Monday for the next week. We have four games left … we didn’t win — it’s what happens — you lose. We have to move forward, quickly.”