Lady Bucs win home opener over Coastal Carolina

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY- East Tennessee State may have ended the football season this week, but it was still homecoming night in Memorial Center on Wednesday.
   Former ETSU men's basketball head coach Alan LeForce returned home to call the shots for his Coastal Carolina Lady Chanticleers, but his coming home party was a losing one as the ETSU Lady Buccaneers defeated Coastal 76-68.
   "I have a lot of great memories," said Leforce, who coached ETSU to its first and only NCAA tournament win over Arizona in 1992. "When I look at all those banners, I remember all those youngsters that helped put them up there. I remember the great crowds we had in here. I have a lot of great feelings about this place.
   "I was hoping I was going to have another great feeling, but I didn't."
   He came close.
   Led by hot shooting from guard Nikki Reddick, Coastal Carolina started the game out on a 16-6 run, and led at halftime by a score of 36-27. Reddick led all scorers with 34 points.
   "She's a good basketball player," LeForce said. "She was runner-up for Miss. Basketball in the state of South Carolina. She's just a good player."
   With the Bucs down at the break, ETSU head coach Karen Kemp gave her starting five an ultimatum.
   "I told them defensively we had to make things happen on that end in order to open things up on the offensive end," Kemp said. "I told those five that started the game that they had three minutes to get the job done.
   "They didn't, but fortunately that bench was ready. The opportunity arose, and they stepped in and did a tremendous job."
   The Bucs fell behind 47-32 at one point, and were still down 51-38 with 12:00 to go when freshman Ashley Reed and junior Samantha Copeland took over.
   Reed hit some big threes, and Copeland started hitting her shots in a key 21-3 run that put the Bucs up 59-54 with 4:32 left in the contest.
   In that run, Reed and Copeland combined for 15 of the 21 points.
   "Samantha played extremely well," Kemp said. "She was completely different from the James Madison game because she did not have that same kind of intensity. We've got to have that from Sam because she can score, and she did a tremendous job guarding Reddick. She scored maybe one bucket while Sam was on her, so she had an all-around game."
   Kemp was also pleased with Reed's performance coming off the bench.
   "She's a tremendous shooter," Kemp said. "Fortunately, she got hot there and hit two or three of those threes. When we recruited Ashley we knew she was going to be a spark plug for us because she can hit those big threes."
   ETSU held on down the stretch as point guard Erin Thurman hit some big treys to secure the Lady Bucs first win of the year.
   A big key to ETSU's second half run was defense. In the first half, Coastal Carolina was getting a lot of wide-open shots, but that changed later in the game.
   "Our defense in the first half looked like we had never practiced any type of defensive pressure, but fortunately in the second half they picked it up. It could have been first home jitters I hope, but now that's out of the way and hopefully we'll have a much better performance the next time we step out on the floor."
   Thurman led the Lady Bucs in scoring with 15, while Reed and Misty Copas added 13 and 12, respectively. Copeland scored nine, but most of those came in the 21-3 run that put the Bucs over the top.
   The Lady Bucs will be back in action at Florida State Saturday. They are currently 1-1 overall heading into that contest.