FGCU snaps Lady Bucs' 13-game home conference winning streak, 71-69
Junior Latisha Belcher was 8-for-10 from the field and scored a game high 20 points.
Junior Latisha Belcher was 8-for-10 from the field and scored a game high 20 points.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 7, 2009) - Junior Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) scored 13 points and grabbed a career high 18 rebounds and fellow junior post Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) scored a game high 20 points, but it was not strong enough to power past Florida Gulf Coast, as the Eagles snapped ETSU's 13-game home conference winning streak 71-69 Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Center.

 

The Lady Bucs held an impressive home conference winning streak that started on Jan. 14, 2008; however, ETSU struggled with its communication and committed too many unforced turnovers on Saturday (19 total turnovers).

 

The loss now sets ETSU back one-half game atop the Atlantic Sun Conference standings, as the Lady Bucs dropped to 13-9, 11-3. Florida Gulf Coast, who jumped ahead of ETSU for first in the standings, extended its winning streak to 10 straight and improved to 19-4, 12-3.

 

"I am very disappointed with the way we played defensively and we got beat by a great basketball team today," commented head coach Karen Kemp. "We have talked about this team and have seen them many, many times. We knew they were a difficult match-up for us, but we had to do a better job of communicating defensively. Overall, we had too many breakdowns on defense and allowed them to get open looks at the three."

 

ETSU left the Eagles open for nine 3-point field goals and a big one by Shannon Murphy with 4:18 to play gave FGCU a 65-61 advantage - which came right after the Lady Bucs had a shot to regain the lead on the prior possession.

 

Following that trey, both teams traded buckets over the next minute, but the Lady Bucs were able to clip the deficit to one, 68-67, after Evans laid one in with 2:21 on clock. However, ETSU broke down on defense and allowed Adrianne McNally to drive the lane, connect on a lay-up and draw the foul at the 1:58 mark. The McNally free throw put the Eagles up four, but the Lady Bucs never folded and Belcher's lay-up with 1:23 remaining made the contest 71-69.

 

Unfortunately, after the Lady Bucs made a stop on defense, junior Devin Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) turned the ball over with 42 ticks remaining. Once again ETSU was able to hold the Eagles scoreless on the next trip down the floor, but with less than 10 seconds to go the Lady Bucs were unable to get the ball into Evans' hands and a desperation heave by freshman Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) hit off the front of the rim as time expired.

 

"On the final possession, I was wanting to Siarre to penetrate down the floor in the final seven seconds, so a timeout was not in our mind," commented Kemp. "Coming out of the timeout with 21 seconds to play, we said we were going to get a stop and have Siarre drive the floor, but we were unable to do that."

 

The Lady Bucs came out of halftime and were able to extend their two-point lead to six, 45-39, thanks to a 3-pointer from Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and two lay-ups by Belcher. ETSU's lead didn't last long though, as the Eagles got hot and posted an 18-3 run from the 17-minute mark to 10:27 left in the contest and led 57-48. During that spurt, FGCU nailed three of its nine 3-pointers, but ETSU wasn't affect by the blitz.

 

ETSU was able to lower the margin to one, 57-56, when Evans laid one in with 6:51, but after FGCU's Chelsea Lyles turned the ball over Evans missed a chance to give ETSU the lead when her jumper rimmed out on the next possession. After Lyles hit a pair of free throws with 5:53 to play, the Lady Bucs fueled another comeback, as a lay-up by Belcher and 3-pointer by Pickwell gave ETSU a 61-59 lead with five minutes to go. However, back-to-back threes gave the Eagles a cushion and the visitors from Florida were able to hold the ETSU rally.

 

For the game, ETSU shot 39.7 percent from the field (27-68) and were limited to only 4-of-16 from beyond the arc (25.0 percent). Missed free throws also hurt the Lady Bucs, as they finished 11-for-17 (64.7 percent), but the Eagles weren't much better at 12-of-17. The Lady Bucs did outrebound FGCU - 48 to 33 - but ETSU was unable to cause the steal. Entering the contest ETSU was forcing a conference best 13.0 steals per game, but the Lady Bucs were only able to record seven this afternoon. The Eagles finished with a 42.4 clip from the floor (25-59) and were 9-of-29 (31.0 percent) from 3-point land.

The first 20 minutes were tightly contested as the game saw four ties and seven lead changes.

 

The Lady Bucs held their largest lead at five, 11-6, when Evans drove in for a lay-up at the 13:31 mark, but a 20-8 Florida Gulf Coast run over the next five-plus minutes gave the Eagles their largest lead at 26-19 after Brittany Brown converted a three-point-play with 7:58 on the clock. ETSU slowly chipped away at its deficit and regained a 31-30 advantage when Pickwell knocked down the Lady Bucs' first 3-point field goal with 3:20 left in the opening 20 minutes. From there, the Lady Bucs received another trey from Davis - giving ETSU a 36-32 lead - but a Brown jumper at the 1:09 mark cut the FGCU deficit to two and the Lady Bucs went into the break up, 36-34.

 

ETSU shot 45.2 percent (14-31) in the opening 20 minutes and held a 24-16 rebounding advantage. The Eagles posted a 40.0 shooting percentage (14-35) and sank four of the nine treys in the first half.

 

To go with Evans' 11th double-double of the season (26th of her career), the Griffin, Ga. native was able to move past Sharon Allen (1978-81) for 11th all-time on the ETSU scoring list (1,152 career points). In addition, following her monstrous day on the glass, Evans also moved past Missy Marvin (1986-89) and Marsha Cowart (1980-83) for ninth on the Lady Buccaneer all-time rebounding list (682 career boards).

 

Lyles led four FGCU players in double figures, as she poured in a team-high 17 points. McNally and Brown each netted 15.

 

The Lady Bucs begin a four-game road swing beginning Friday night in the Music City when ETSU faces Lipscomb. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside Allen Arena and will be broadcast live on CSS.

 

For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.   

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