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Spartans rally past Lady Bucs in A-Sun opener, 78-70
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Mitchell's career night overshadowed in loss at USC Upstate
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Dec. 4, 2010) - Freshman Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) scored a career-high 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, but the Lady Bucs squandered a 14-point second half lead as USC Upstate rallied past ETSU, 78-70, in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener Saturday evening inside the G.B. Hodge Center.
The Lady Bucs suffered their fourth straight loss and dropped to 2-4 on the season, while the Spartans earned their second straight win and improved to 3-2.
To go along with Mitchell's second career double-double, the Bluffton, Ga. native also forced four steals and two assists in 36 minutes of action. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.) finished with a career high 15 points, and junior Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) netted eight of her 10 points in the first half. Red-shirt senior post Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) ripped down 13 of ETSU's 52 rebounds, setting a new career mark.
Despite holding a 53-39 lead with 13:41 remaining in the contest, foul trouble plagued ETSU as senior captain Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) picked up her fourth foul at the 11:07 mark and eventually fouled out four minutes later.
The Spartans took full use of the foul issues as Upstate mounted a 22-6 run from the 13:41 mark until 5:44 left in the contest and grabbed their first lead of the half, 61-59 after Chelsea McMillan sank a pair of free throws. ETSU quickly tied the game at 61 thanks to two freebies from Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.), but Upstate scored the next six points to go up 67-61 with 3:15 remaining in regulation.
ETSU wasn't fazed by the run as Mitchell once again pulled the Blue and Gold even for the ninth time of the game after her jumper with less than two minutes to play tied it at 68. However, the Spartans closed out the game on a 10-2 run to walk away with the conference victory in their home opener.
Both teams finished with almost identical statistics, but one more three-pointer and five additional made free throws proved to be the difference. The Lady Bucs shot 34.7 percent (25-72) and 3-of-12 (25-percent) from beyond the arc. On the other side, Upstate shot 37.7 percent (26-69) from the field and 4-for-17 from three (23.5 percent). In the end, the Spartans finished 22-of-29 (75.9 percent) at the free throw line, compared to the Lady Bucs going 17-for-21 (81.0 percent).
The opening eight minutes of the game dictated the pace as it was up-tempo and tightly contested. Both clubs combined for four ties and eight lead changes over that span; however, with USC Upstate leading 20-19, ETSU managed to open a seven-point cushion (27-20) at the 7:11 mark.
The Lady Buccaneer lead didn't last long as the Spartans scored the next seven points of the contest, but with the game knotted at 27, ETSU closed out the final six minutes, four seconds on a 14-5 run to take a 41-32 advantage into the break.
Despite having Davis held scoreless in the first half, Mitchell, Pickwell, and Randall led the way for the Blue and Gold. The Lady Buccaneer trio combined to score 28 of the 41 points as Mitchell led all players with 12 first-half points. The fast paced game also favored ETSU as the Lady Bucs outscored Upstate 10-2 in fast-break points.
Four Spartan players finished in double figures with McMillan leading the way with 20 points.
The Lady Bucs close out their four-game road swing Wednesday night when ETSU travels to Chapel Hill for a showdown with 14th-ranked North Carolina. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside Carmichael Auditorium.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.