Lady Bucs fall by wayside

By Matt Hill

   CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The College of Charleston women's basketball team should change its nickname to the Hurricanes. On Thursday night, the East Tennessee State Lady Buccaneers got caught in a tidal wave of sharpshooting by the Lady Cougars.
   The Lady Cougars shot 59.4 percent in the first half en route to an 85-65 rout over ETSU in the first round of the Mountain Dew Southern Conference basketball tournament at McAlister Fieldhouse.
   "It's hard to expect to win when you allow your opponent to shoot 60 percent from the floor in the first half," ETSU head coach Karen Kemp said. "They did a good job of running their offense and hitting the open man."
   While the Lady Cougars were red hot from the floor, the East Tennessee State Lady Buccaneers went through a severe cold spell in the first half.
   The Lady Bucs shot only 8-of-31 from the field in the first 20 minutes, and as a result they trailed 49-29 at halftime.
   The final two minutes of the first half might have been the backbreaker for ETSU, which had just cut what had been a 17-point Charleston lead down to 13 (42-29).
   Charleston had an answer for ETSU. The Lady Cougars outscored the Lady Bucs 7-0 to end the half to take the 20-point cushion into the locker room.
   Charleston hit five 3-pointers in the first half, and finished the game with nine treys overall. Four of the trifectas were hit by Becky Wollenberg, who finished the night with 16 points.
   "It was a great team effort from us," Charleston head coach Melissa Slone said. "Everyone stepped up at different times. We spent a lot of time this week at practice shooting the ball, and that was good for us."
   ETSU played a respectable second half, as it cut Charleston's lead down to 13 twice. But everytime the Lady Bucs seemed to be knocking at the door, the door quickly shut.
   The Lady Bucs looked to be making a desperation rally, as an Ashley Reed 3-pointer made it a 72-59 Charleston advantage with 4:38 remaining.
   But the Lady Cougars' 11-4 spurt in the next three minutes gave the hometown team a convincing victory.
   "During the second half, we responded to runs by ETSU," Slone said. "Losing to them late in the season was a big motivation for us. And that drove us to perform well against them tonight."
   The fact that the Lady Bucs couldn't cut into that lead any further frustrated Kemp.
   "We wanted to get it under 10," Kemp said, "but everytime we cut it to 11 or 12, they would hit a big basket. That is a little draining defensively."
   There were a couple of bright spot for ETSU. Misty Copas and Leslie Burleson both had stellar outings, scoring 17 and 11 points, respectively.
   Copas was instrumental in the second half in giving the Lady Bucs a glimmer of hope, while Burleson was playing like she wanted to extend her career another day.
   Lauren Trantham finished as the Lady Bucs' leading rebounder with eight boards on the night.
   The Lady Cougars are now 14-13 and will play second-seeded UNC-Greensboro tonight. The Lady Bucs end their season with a 10-18 mark, but have a lot of the same players coming back to Johnson City next season.
   "We felt like if we did what we needed to defensively, we had an opportunity," Kemp said. "Unfortunately, we came out on the short end."