Lady Bucs wrap up road swing at No. 18 UNC Sunday afternoon

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ETSU, UNC set to meet for fourth time in six years

 CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Dec. 10, 2011) – The ETSU women’s basketball team wraps up its season-long five-game road swing on Sunday afternoon when the Lady Bucs travel to take on No. 18 North Carolina. Tip time is set for 2 p.m. inside Carmichael Arena.

ETSU (0-9) is coming off an 81-70 loss at Missouri State on Tuesday night, but the Lady Bucs had the preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite on the ropes. The Blue and Gold held a three-point lead with less than 13 minutes left in the game and only trailed by three with 3:06 remaining in the contest. However, the Lady Bears – who are currently ranked No. 11 in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll – closed the final three minutes on a 12-4 run to capture the 11-point non-conference win.

Red-shirt senior guard Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) tied a season high with 21 points, while Amy Duke (Hendersonville, Tenn.) added a career-best 12 points off the bench. Sophomores Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) and Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.) also provided the Lady Bucs with a spark. Mitchell finished one rebound shy of collecting her first double-double of the season after netting 10 points, while Randall came off the bench to fuel an ETSU run with 10 points as well. As a team, the Lady Bucs made a season-high 30 field goals and tied their season best with a 41.1 shooting percentage in Springfield.

Gordon looks to continue her hot shooting in Chapel Hill as she has raised her scoring average over 12 points during her last three games. The Wichita, Kan. native has scored in double figures in each of the last three games and is registering 17.7 points per game during this stretch. Mitchell has also stepped her game up on this road trip by averaging 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds in 27.5 minutes of play over the last four games.

The Lady Bucs will face a very long and athletic Tar Heel team on Sunday as North Carolina (6-1) boasts six players over 6-feet tall.

However, North Carolina has been hit with the injury bug as the Tar Heels only dressed eight players last time out in the 95-53 win over Lipscomb on Wednesday night. Senior 6-foot-5 forward Laura Broomfield (foot) and freshman guard Shannon Smith (hamstring) were resting injuries against the Lady Bisons, while sophomore guard Latifah Coleman suffered a season-ending ACL injury last month versus Presbyterian. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, is sitting out the first part of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season, while 6-foot-6 junior center Waltiea Rolle is on maternity leave.

As a team, UNC was picked to ­finish sixth in the ACC, but the Tar Heels currently lead the conference in scoring offense (86.7), scoring margin (+34.0), ­field goal percentage defense (31.6), assists (19.4), and 3-point ­field goals made per game (6.4). Despite missing two games with the foot injury, Broomfield is still averaging a double-double (14 points/12.8 rebounds) on the season, while 6-foot-5 starting center Chay Shegog leads the team in scoring (16.0 ppg), field goal percentage (56.0), blocks (14), field goals made (42), and free throws made (28).

Sunday marks the 13th meeting between the two programs, with the Lady Bucs still searching for their fi­rst-ever win over North Carolina as the Tar Heels have won the 12 prior meetings, including an 87-47 win last December. ETSU trailed by 13 at the half, but were then outscored by 27 in the second half en route to suffering the 40-point loss. Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) enjoyed a record night inside Carmichael as she netted then a career-high 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. The Lady Bucs are hopeful Pickwell can break out of her shooting woes as the Kingsport, Tenn. native has not made a three-point field goal in her last four games, while averaging less than six points per game and shooting an uncharacteristic 21.6 percent (8-37) from the field during this rough stretch.

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