Preseason tuneup sees  L-McRae trip Lady Bucs

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The small school from over the hill knocked Goliath back and locked the door.
   In their first exhibition game of the season, the East Tennessee State Lady Bucs watched the Lees-McRae Lady Bobcats run the show Thursday night.
   Behind 11 points and 11 rebounds from former Science Hill standout Deanna Lady, with six treys and 20 points from Lindsey Pope, the Lady Bobcats toughed out a 78-72 victory at Brooks Gym.
   "It's the perfect situation to get a win over a good program like this," said Lees-McRae coach Gene Joiner. "We were fortunate to be able to compete. It's a step in the right direction for the national tournament.
   "We better be ready to play after this."
   The Lady Bucs gave up 28 points from the charity stripe and couldn't get much offense from the perimeter.
   Despite being in foul trouble, Lauren Trantham pitched in 11 points for ETSU while Tiffani Mayes dropped 26 points inside.
   "We've got a lot of work to do on our perimeter game," said ETSU coach Karen Kemp. "I know we're young, but I just didn't feel like we gave a lot of effort. Our posts can only do so much."
   "We didn't adjust to the officiating," she said. "It's hard to beat anybody out there."
   Trantham downed the first bucket in the game after two minutes had ran off the clock. Lady got the Lady Bobcats going early with a bucket to tie it.
   Lees-McRae led after Lindsey Pope swished a trey, but Tiffani Mayes took it back over for the Lady Bucs with two straight buckets.
   Fouls became a problem for both teams early on, former Hampton standout Alice Peters drew three fouls, all in one minute of play, while Trantham had three fouls with over 12 minutes remaining.
   Laura Parker helped the Lady Bobcats take a five-point lead with some key buckets, but Whitney Tate was there from downtown. Lees-McRae held the edge past the midway point in the half, prompting ETSU coach Karen Kemp to call a timeout.
   Brooke Wilhoit, B.J. Banjo and Candace Gibson helped the Lady Bucs with three straight buckets respectively to take over the lead.
   But Pope kept her squad in the game with three trifectas to build their lead back up to five.
   The Lady Bucs got a pair of buckets from Anna Marie Ricciardi and Mayes to tie it back up for Banjo, who took a one-point lead for ETSU with a free throw at the end of the half.
   Pope opened the second half with a three for the Lady Bobcats, who took the lead back with some Lady free throws.
   Freshmen Courtney Gogolinski and Melissa Wilson helped Lees-McRae hold a steady lead despite a charge from Ricciardi and Gibson. ETSU finally took the lead after the 10-minute mark when Whitney Tate sliced a three followed by a bucket from Mayes.
   Both squads traded punches with Lady Bobcat Peters and ETSU's Jessica Lonon keying some scores. As the game wound down to the final minutes, Lees-McRae kept an edge until ETSU worked its way out of foul trouble.
   Trantham made some key adjustments around the perimeter to open things up for the Lady Bucs with a quick bucket to set up a steal and bucket for Lonon.
   Pope worked in another three-pointer to take a two-point lead with under two minutes in the game. Julie Hardison hit a clutch three to put Lees-McRae up five with under a minute to go.
   Trantham followed with a bucket, but Lady pulled away with a key rebound on the other end to help run the clock down.
   Lady made a free throw to make it four, but Hardison came away with a big steal on the other end with a foul keying two buckets from the charity stripe to give the Lady Bobcats the 78-72 win.
   It was a sweet homecoming for Lady, while it's a close fit for Peters and former Cloudland Lady 'Lander Taukia Hughes.
   "I have no words right now, this is huge for us as a program," Lady said. "We came up big at the end and it's very special for me being from a home crowd."
   Peters had two points and two rebounds despite her foul trouble. Hughes played 16 minutes in the game, contributing a lot in her effort for the team.
   All three of the local Tennessee players started the game.
   "We came ready to play," said Peters. "We came up and felt like we could beat them. It's a real accomplishment. We were supposed to lose, that's what motivated us."
   Added Hughes: "It's awesome. We worked hard to beat a D1 school. We played as a team tonight."
   Laura Parker scored 15 points, while Courtney Gogolinski added 10 for Lees-McRae.