Lady Bucs unload on second-place Davidson

By Rebecca Pierson
STAR Correspondent

   The Lady Buccaneers took back their home court on Saturday, winning 83-54 over the second-ranked Davidson Lady Wildcats.
   ETSU head coach Karen Kemp also laid claim to the title of all-time winningest coach after surpassing Susan Yow (1978-86) with 119 wins.
   Most importantly, this was a payback for Davidson's home victory over the Bucs (10-11) on Jan. 10 at the Belk Arena, 74-59. The Bucs have lost five out of their seven match-ups against Davidson (13-9). They are now both tied for third in the Southern Conference at 10-5.
   Davidson held its furthest lead just after the 10-minute point in the first half at 25-14. The Lady Bucs slowly ate that lead down to just one point and then seem to come out from the locker room determined not to lose on their home court this time.
   B.J. Banjo came back in the first seven seconds to throw a pass to Kiya Verdell for three points and give the lead back to ETSU at 36-34.
   "Everybody came out penetrating," said Verdell. "I was just glad I was able to knock down some open shots. The coach lectured us, and we came out doing what we needed to do. We know that was not our best game and we had to pick it up."
   "The home games we need," she said. "We need to win all of our games, but especially home games because this is our court. It's a big win for us."
   It was all Lady Bucs in the second half. Verdell would total 16 points, 10 of those in the second.
   Brooke Wilhoit would lead the team with 18 points, tying Verdell with four three-pointers.
   Lauren Trantham also earned a 23rd double-double of her career with 10 rebounds and 12 points. Tiffani Mayes had 12 points.
   The Lady Buc team out-rebounded their opponent, 44-24.
   "I think the first half, they were getting their offenses set," said Kemp. "I think we just made a decent adjustment in the second half in turning out good penetration."
   Kemp said that the win is as important as any other win, even though this one is a personal record for her.
   "I just want to finish as high as possible this season," she said. "This team is on their mission. They are going to do some things that teams have not done here in a long time.
   She said: "They came out totally focused and ready to put another win on our side. What we are focused on, and what we talked about yesterday in our practice, is that sometimes you have to put individual goals and records to the side, and put the team ahead. That is what we are all doing. We are going to do whatever it takes for this team to be successful."
   Wilhoit also commented on what drove the team in the second half.
   "She told us that we needed to pick up the intensity on defense," she said.
   "We weren't doing that bad on offense. We did have a lot of turnovers.
   "She said that we needed to take care of the ball, and be smart with our passes, and be smarter with the ball in our hand. We needed to pick it up on our defense. They were beating us."
   Wilhoit went on to say: "I think the second half, offensively, that was definitely the best we have moved the ball. We would have an open shot, but there would one more pass away.
   "There would be another girl who had an even better look at the basket. When we would make that extra pass is when we were hitting all the shots."
   Kemp said: "Our record means nothing to me. I think the difference was in the first half. They were taking advantage of the penetration we were giving up and getting easy looks at the basket.
   "At half-time we talked about what adjustments we need to make on the defensive end," she said. "Fortunately the players listened, and went out there and executed defensively. Offensively, it was a second half. It didn't seem like we missed that many shots. We did a good job rotating the ball, looking to penetrate and finding the open man."
   Katie Hamilton led the Lady Wildcats with eight points, two of which were field goals. Courtney Laird, Meghan Bryant, Ashley Hallsted and Tia Washington follow up with six points each.
   The Lady Bucs will host their last home game of the season Monday night at 7 p.m. against Western Carolina. There will be a special presentation to the team's seniors just before tip-off.