East Tennessee State Athletics
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Six Lady Buccaneer players scored in double figures as ETSU rolled past Mercer 100-62 on Monday evening inside the MSHA Athletic Center. The effort handed coach Karen Kemp career win number 250.
Junior guard Natalie Pickwell led the way for the Blue and Gold by netting a game-high 20 points, while freshman Destiny Mitchell continued her double-double dominance. Mitchell recorded her ninth double-double of the year as she finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high six steals. Senior captains Tara Davis and Latisha Belcher each enjoyed solid performances as Davis scored 14 points and tied a season high with seven assists. Meanwhile, Belcher went 6-for-6 from the field to end with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals.
The Lady Bucs reached the 100-point mark for the first time since putting up 102 on Belmont back on Feb. 18, 2008.
Sophomore Iesha Robinson came off the bench to score a season-high 15 points and junior Gwen Washington added 14. Robinson also finished 5-of-5 from the free throw line, while Washington totaled seven rebounds and five assists in 23 minutes of work.
With the win, ETSU closed out its season-long five-game homestand with a perfect 5-0 mark and improved to 13-9, 10-3 in A-Sun play. Mercer dropped to 1-20, 1-11 after suffering its worst conference loss of the year.
“This was a good way to wrap up the homestand and hopefully we have a little momentum now as we head down to Florida,” Kemp said. “It was good to see a lot of people step up and I was really proud of our effort on both sides of the ball.”
Even after leading the Lady Bucs to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and averaging more than 20 wins during the last five seasons, Kemp was unaware of the milestone she reached following the game.
“I don’t keep up with those things (when asked about her milestone win), because we are just focused on this team and making them better. We have been fortunate to have players come in here and lay a winning foundation,” Kemp said. “The players deserve all the credit because they are the ones who work hard every day in practice and carry that over on gamedays.”
In the first half, the Lady Bucs took advantage of 15 Mercer turnovers and shot nearly 60 percent to take a 52-27 lead into the break.
The Bears opened the game with the first bucket, but after getting off to a sluggish start in the first six minutes, the Lady Bucs finally turned it up notch to take momentum away from Mercer.
With ETSU leading by five at the 13:09 mark, the Blue and Gold used the next five minutes-plus minutes to build a 16-point cushion as a pair of free throws by Davis put the Lady Bucs up 28-12 with 8:16 left in the half. From there, the Lady Bucs pushed their margin up to 20, when Mitchell’s lay-in made it 41-21 with less than five minutes remaining before intermission. After ETSU’s defense held Mercer to only six points in the final 5:34, the Blue and Gold took a 25-point lead into the locker room.
The Lady Bucs went 19-of-32 from the field in the first 20 minutes and scored 21 points off the Mercer turnovers. ETSU’s bench also outscored the Bears’ 13-0 and the Lady Bucs assisted on 11 of their 19 makes.
ETSU wasted little time putting the game out of reach in the second half, as the Lady Bucs used the first 7:11 of the final stanza to push their 25-point half time lead to 35 at 72-37 when Davis found Tosha Austin all alone for a lay-up. The Lady Bucs enjoyed their largest lead of the season when Washington’s jumper at the 5:10 mark put ETSU up by 43 and the Blue and Gold raced away with the lop-sided victory.
For the game, the Lady Bucs set season highs in shooting percentage (57 percent), field goals made (40), assists (22), steals (15), free throw percentage (1.000) and points scored. After shooting 37 percent in the first half, Mercer went 16-of-28 in the final 20 minutes to finish 27-for-58 (46.6 percent) for the game. ETSU out-rebounded the Bears 41- 25, and scored 24 points off 16 offensive rebounds while also scoring 33 points off 24 Mercer turnovers.
Mercer had three players score in double figures as Brittnee Hazel led the way with 16.