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Big second quarter propels ETSU women into SoCon semifinals

Joe Avento • Updated Mar 2, 2018 at 3:09 AM

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A spectacular second quarter allowed the East Tennessee State women’s basketball team to cruise into the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament.

The Bucs rolled to a 78-64 victory over Wofford in the quarterfinals Thursday at U.S. Cellular Center thanks to a 19-point advantage in the second period.

ETSU, which improved to 19-11, got 24 points and five assists from Tianna Tarter, who continued her stellar play in this arena. Tarter scored nine points in the second quarter, going 3 for 3 on 3-pointers, as second-seeded ETSU outscored Wofford 30-11 to basically put the game away with a half to play.

Tarter’s 17 first-half points gave her a total of 48 in consecutive halves in Asheville. She had 31 in the second half of the Bucs’ season-ending loss to Samford last year.

“It’s just confidence,” Tarter said.

Tarter was 5 of 7 on 3-pointers in the first two quarters. The big second quarter put the Bucs up 51-30 at halftime.

“We had great tempo, we were out on defense turning it into offense and we never let our foot off the gas,” said freshman guard Erica Haynes-Overton, who added 19 points for ETSU.

SEMIFINAL MATCHUP

A third matchup with UNC Greensboro looms for ETSU, which split the regular-season series with the Spartans.

UNCG (12-17) upset defending champion Chattanooga in double overtime in the quarterfinals. Tip-off for Friday’s semifinal is set for 1:15 p.m.

BALANCED SCORING

ETSU had four players in double figures. In addition to Tarter and Haynes-Overton, Sadasia Tipps had 11 points and Britney Snowden added 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Bucs took care of the ball, limiting themselves to eight turnovers while dishing out 14 assists and forcing the Terriers to turn the ball over 17 times.

STAR POWER

Tarter was a first-team all-conference selection while Haynes-Overton was the SoCon’s freshman of the year and defensive player of the year, and the Bucs’ two stars stepped to the fore when the lights shone the brightest.

“These two kids right here are the best two kids in the SoCon, in my opinion, and the two most unassuming superstars you’re ever going to be around,” ETSU coach Brittney Ezell said. “They never ask for credit. They don’t ever brag on themselves. Confidence is earned and both of them work at it.”

CHANGE OF FORTUNES

The Bucs had lost in the quarterfinals the last two years.

“I try not to compare teams from years to years because the personnel changes, the demeanors change, the scenarios change,” Ezell said. “I guess we learned you can’t win the second one until you win the first one.”

TERRIER BITES

Cairo Booker led the Terriers with 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Da’Ja Green had 15 points. Seventh-seeded Wofford finished its season 10-20.

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