Lady Bucs start hot, cruise to victory

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY- The East Tennessee State Lady Buccaneers were like a bad sunburn in several stretches of their game with the Tennessee Tech Lady Eagles Wednesday night. They were blistering.
   ETSU started the game on a 13-2 run, saw Tennessee Tech come back, then pulled away again to defeat the Lady Eagles by a score of 82-73 in Memorial Center.
   The Lady Bucs were starting a different lineup from the one they began the season with, and head coach Karen Kemp thought the group really responded early.
   "When I made the change Sunday with the starters, I thought it was because some of the upperclassmen were getting a little complacent, and I thought they weren't going out there and playing hard," Kemp said. "I felt those five that I chose were going to go out and give that intensity from the very beginning, and that it would be contagious."
   The Lady Bucs saw their lead disappear around the seven-minute mark of the first half. The Lady Bucs went cold, and that propelled the Lady Eagles to go on a 16-4 spurt to give them an 18-17 advantage.
   During ETSU's big spurt, Kemp made some substitutions. That's when Tennessee Tech made its run, but Kemp thought she made the right decision.
   "Five minutes going hard, that's about all you can give," Kemp said. "I was thinking I would sub those five in and give them a break, but unfortunately they did come back. But I don't think it was a lack of intensity. If I had to do it all over again I would do the same thing."
   The game remained pretty even until halftime, as Tennessee Tech took a 31-30 lead into the locker room.
   The contest didn't really swing back into ETSU's direction until halfway through the second stanza. ETSU held a 52-48 lead with 11:14 to play, but that quickly changed.
   Propelled by Erin Thurman, the Lady Bucs went on an 11-0 run in the next 2:30 to take what seemed like a commanding 63-48 cushion.
   Thurman, who was one of the regular starters that has been coming off the bench, scored eight of her game-high 19 during that stretch.
   "Erin responded well on Sunday and then once again today," Kemp said.
   Tennessee Tech did cut the ETSU edge down to 74-71 with 2:21 to go, but the Lady Bucs made all their foul shots down the stretch to secure the victory.
   East Tennessee State went 23-of-29 from the foul line.
   The Lady Bucs are off to a much better start than they were last year.
   ETSU is a surprising 6-4 going into the Christmas break.
   Thurman thought Tennessee Tech, now 7-4 overall, might have been looking ahead.
   "It kind of seemed like in the beginning they were overlooking us," Thurman said. "We saw what we could do. We beat a good Tennessee Tech team."
   It was a balanced scoring effort for the Bucs, as Five players hit double figures. In addition to Thurman, Summer Jones and Lauren Trantham had 14, Megan Jackson scored 13, and Ashley Reed netted 11.
   Janet Holt topped the Lady Eagles with 20.