JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 6, 2012) – After starting the new calendar year with a three-point win over USC Upstate on Wednesday, the ETSU women’s basketball team will look to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season when the Lady Bucs host Mercer on Saturday afternoon. The Lady Bucs kickoff an Atlantic Sun doubleheader with a 1:30 p.m. tip inside the MSHA Athletic Center.
A pair of local players in senior guard Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) and freshman guard/forward Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) helped guide ETSU (2-11, 1-2 A-Sun) to a 67-64 victory over the Spartans. Pickwell finished with a game-high 22 points, while Bowling came off the bench to add a career-high 15 points in 21 minutes of action. Along with her 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, Pickwell also tied a career-high with nine rebounds, while Bowling added three boards and two steals to her stat line. In addition, sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) registered her second double-double of the season (13th for her career) after finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Spartans.
By starting the 2012 portion of their schedule with a win, the Lady Bucs hope to carry the positive momentum into Saturday as ETSU is searching for consecutive wins since posting four straight last February. ETSU has now won 22 of its last 27 games inside the MSHA Athletic Center, and since joining the A-Sun the Lady Bucs have won five of the six games played in Johnson City against Mercer.
Mercer (3-12, 1-3 A-Sun) has dropped five straight games and is coming off a tough 89-84 loss to Stetson on Wednesday night in Macon. After playing an even first half against the Hatters, Mercer was outscored 54-49 in the final 20 minutes to suffer the five-point setback. Stetson doubled up the Bears in points in the paint – outscoring Mercer 56 to 28 – while Mercer’s bench outscored the Hatters’, 34 to 8. The Bears lost five consecutive games to start the year before picking up their first win against High Point, and have since defeated Belmont in Nashville and Troy in Macon.
The Bears, who are led by sophomore guard Brianna Williams’ 15.0 points per game, were picked eighth by the coaches and ninth by the media in the preseason conference polls. Despite leading the team in scoring overall, Williams has only started in one of the four conference games, while 5-foot-11 junior forward Ry’van Buchanan has taken over as the scoring leader in A-Sun games at 14.0 points per game. Buchanan is also shooting 49 percent from the field and averaging 6.8 rebounds in four league contests. Meanwhile, freshman guard Precious Bridges has seen her scoring output rise over four points in conference play, as she’s averaging 12.5 points per game against conference foes.
ETSU has won five straight against Mercer and lead the all-time series, 12-9. Overall, the Lady Bucs have won the last five games in the series by an average of 21.6 points per game (85.8-64.2), while Mitchell averaged 18 points, 11.5 rebounds, and three steals against the Bears last season. Pickwell also put together two solid games against Mercer last season as the Kingsport, Tenn. native averaged 18 points and four threes against the Bears. The Lady Bucs shot 57.1 percent (40-70) from the field en route to defeating Mercer, 100-62, in the last meeting back on Jan. 31, 2011 in Johnson City.
Fans who make the trip to Johnson City for the game and bring a new or used children’s book to donate to the Reach Out & Read program will also receive $1 admission.
Fans unable to make the trip to Johnson City can listen to all the action on WXSM-AM 640 The Extreme Sports Monster as “Voice of the Lady Bucs” John Stevens will carry the play-by-play. Live video will also be available on A-Sun.TV and live stats are offered via Gametracker.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.