The ETSU Lady Bucs still entered the 2011 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Championship as the top seed and they still advanced to the semifinals of the tournament for the fifth consecutive year.
The similarities to the dominant championship teams of the last three years begin to break down at that point. Of the nine players to take the court today, only three (Tara Davis, Tosha Austin and Gwen Washington) scored in last year’s title game and the trio combined for just 15 points.
The three had a much larger impact on this year’s 83-75 victory over Lipscomb. Davis made the most of her 37 minutes on the court, scoring 23 points, grabbing seven rebounds and picking up five assists. Austin ripped down five boards including three on the offensive glass. Washington’s play off the bench may have been the key to ETSU’s come-from-behind victory as she netted a career-high 24 points.
“It has been different this entire season because we are so young and don’t have those great players like TaRonda (Wiles) and Sierre (Evans),” stated ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. “It was a lot of coaching for me … a lot more than the last few years. I’m really pleased to see our team grow and mature to be playing as well as they are at this point in the season.”
The glue for this team has been the senior duo of Latisha Belcher and Tara Davis.
“They know how to win. That is all they are accustomed to. TD gave us big buckets when we needed it,” Kemp said. “They are competitors and know how to win. It helps our whole team.”
Davis proved that in the second half. After managing just six points in the first half, the guard scored seven of the team’s final 11 points to put the victory on ice.
The young Bucs await the winner Thursday afternoon’s contest between No. 4 UNF and No. 5 Jacksonville. One more win and ETSU will match the conference record for consecutive tournament victories. They have knocked off Jacksonville or UNF in all their of title games - besting Jacksonville in 2008 and 2009 and UNF by a point last year.