The Lady Bucs won for the eighth time in their past nine contests, taking an 80-68 victory over Atlantic Sun Conference rival USC-Upstate on Monday at Memorial Center. ETSU dominated the game statistically and held the Lady Spartans to 31.3 percent shooting from the field.
Yet Lady Bucs coach Karen Kemp wasn’t in the best of moods after seeing her team go from a 28-point lead at 14:36 of the second half to being up by only 10 at the 5:16 mark.
“The end of the game wasn’t very positive,” Kemp said. “I wasn’t pleased with our efforts for the full 40 minutes. There were spurts where I thought we played well, but, when we were up, we were content with that. We allowed them to get back in the game.”
Siarre Evans led the charge for the Lady Bucs (11-7, 9-1) with 20 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. It was her ninth double-double of the season and the 24th of her career.
However, like her coach, she wasn’t satisfied with the effort.
“We played good some of the time,” Evans said. “Other times we didn’t come out with the same intensity. We should have won by 40 tonight.”
After falling behind 9-8 with 13:19 left in the first half, the Lady Bucs reeled off 18 unanswered points over the next 5½ minutes to take a lead they would never relinquish.
ETSU guard TaRonda Wiles, who entered the game as the A-Sun’s leading scorer at 15.7 points per game, bettered her average with a 20-point effort. She added 11 rebounds for her first career double- double.
Latisha Belcher nearly added a third double-double for the Bucs with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Kendra Wallace was the leading scorer for Upstate (9-9, 4-6) with 19 points.
The Lady Bucs’ superior ball movement, which led to a 19-7 difference in the number of assists, came into play late in the game. On two occasions after Upstate cut the lead to single digits, ETSU responded with layups on the other end.
“That is one thing we focus on, attacking and trying to find the open player,” Kemp said. “So we were pleased with the way we moved the basketball.”
The Lady Bucs also were more accurate behind the 3-point line. They went 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) compared to just 5-of-23 (21.7 percent) for the Lady Spartans.
ETSU solidified its grip on first in the conference heading into Thursday’s game against Jacksonville, holding a two-game advantage in the standings.
“That is a positive,” Kemp said. “An ugly win is better than a pretty loss, so we’ll definitely take that. We are on kind of a roll.”