Coming into Thursday night, ETSU and Mercer sat at the top of the women’s SoCon standings, both with five wins in the conference. Both teams entered Brooks Gym undefeated, but only one would leave with that status.

ETSU came in with a six game win streak, precipitated by the strong play of the backcourt pairing of Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tennessee) and Erica Haynes-Overton (Nashville, Tennessee). Haynes-Overton is ranked third in the nation for steals and was named College Sports Madness Player of the Week. Tarter leads the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game.

The Mercer Bears came in in the midst of a 15 game win streak. The Bears offense has put up 73 points per game, while holding opponents under 60. On the other hand, ETSU is 5-0 win scoring over 60 points.

What occurred next can only be defined as a battle. The first quarter was a back and forth affair, and the score reflected it. The teams went into the second quarter tied 21-21. The Bears pulled away in the last five minutes of the half to lead by double digits, 45-34, at the half.

The Bucs fought hard, and cut the lead to seven during the third quarter, but were unable to lower the deficit further.

The Bucs fell to 5-1 in conference play with the loss to Mercer, 85-65.

ETSU seemed unable to control the Bears offensive attack, so they took notes, and delivered their own offensive onslaught on Saturday against Samford. This was led by Tarter, who tied her season best with 33 points with five three pointers nailed. It was a team effort that allowed the Bucs to cruise past Samford with a 76-48 win.

A bounce back win always feels good.

“We knew we couldn’t come out and be down after last game,” said Tarter. “So we just came out with a lot of energy.”

ETSU will continue its conference play on the road against UNC-Greensboro on Thursday.