Bucs outscore Norse in second half, 30-24, but first half deficit proves costly
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (March 8, 2014) – A valiant second half effort from the ETSU women’s basketball team was not enough to overtake a 14-point halftime deficit against the Northern Kentucky Norse as it dropped a 58-50 decision on Saturday afternoon inside the Bank of Kentucky Center.
With the loss, ETSU falls to 9-20 overall and finishes the regular season 5-13 in Atlantic Sun league play; while Northern Kentucky improves to 17-12 on the season and ends the year 13-5 in conference action.
In each team’s final regular season contest of the year, the Bucs and the Norse both struggled from the field in the early going. After each squad made only one basket in the first four-and-a-half minutes, NKU began to find the bottom of the net, while the Blue & Gold continued to have problems. With Northern Kentucky leading 7-6 at the 12:20 mark, the Norse manufactured a 22-6 run to pull ahead to a game-high advantage, 29-10, with 4:03 left in the first half. Facing a sizeable deficit, ETSU did not quit and provided an 8-5 burst to head into halftime trailing, 34-20.
Once again, the Bucs played inspired ball out of the locker room to start the second period. ETSU scored the first eight points of the half, featuring a pair of three-pointers from Shamauria Bridges (Miramar, Fla.), to reduce its deficit to six, 34-28, with 17:55 remaining. Throughout the half, the Bucs were able to limit the Norse’s offense by forcing them into under 20 percent shooting. With the Blue & Gold nipping at its heels, NKU put together a 12-4 surge to separate from ETSU with a 46-32 advantage with 11:42 to go. As expected, the Bucs refused to go away and scored 10 unanswered points to only trail 46-42 with 4:54 left to play. Down the stretch, though, the experienced Northern Kentucky squad made a few plays to keep the Blue & Gold at bay. Late conversions from the free-throw line by the Norse spoiled a valiant second half effort from ETSU, 58-50.
Northern Kentucky was led by 25 points from Melody Doss as well as a 15-point effort from lone senior Kayla Thacker on the team’s Senior Day. Meanwhile, the Bucs were paced by 14 points from Bridges, highlighted by 12 in the second half, while Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) contributed 12 points and a game-high tying nine rebounds.
Despite ETSU limiting them to 20 percent shooting in the second half, the Norse’s 45 percent shooting and seven three-pointers in the first period proved costly for the Bucs. NKU also made 13-of-15 free throws, got 12 points from its bench and translated 14 takeaways into 16 points.
The Blue & Gold shot 35 percent for the game and was perfect in its limited opportunities from the free-throw line, 8-of-8. ETSU dominated NKU in the paint, 26-12, and turned 14 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points. In addition, the Bucs turned the Norse over 11 times, resulting in 15 points, and held a 40-34 total rebounding advantage.
The Bucs will face the USC Upstate Spartans in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship on Tuesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. inside the Hodge Center in Spartanburg, S.C. Click here for ticket information.
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