The Lady Bucs suffered their second consecutive 25-point home loss Saturday, falling 80-55 to Stetson at the MSHA Athletic Center.
“Our effort was good, but I thought our execution was not so good,” Ezell said. “We took the same number of shots as Stetson and they made 10 more field goals.”
The Hatters led 37-23 at halftime but ETSU fought back and used consecutive 3 pointers from Chandler Christopher and Jasmine Hotchkins to make it 40-34 five minutes into the second half. Stetson then scored the next 10 points to regain their comfortable margin. The Bucs didn’t threaten again.
The Hatters, who never trailed, remained tied for first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference at 10-1. The defending conference champions won their 10th game in a row and improved to 18-5 overall.
ETSU fell to 7-15 overall, 3-8 in the A-Sun.
“I think our kids sometimes go into games not exactly expecting to win,” Ezell said. “I think we hope to, it would be nice to, it would be fun. But until you expect it, until you demand it of yourself ... until it stinks to the point that you don’t sleep and food doesn’t taste as good and everything’s just a little bit sour, it’s OK to lose. And in my opinion, it’s not.”
Christopher, a former walk-on from Greeneville who was elevated to scholarship status before the season, tied her career high with 17 points. She didn’t get a chance to get any more because she left the game in the closing minutes with a bloody nose after a collision during a scramble for a rebound.
“For what Chandler doesn’t have in raw athletic ability she makes up for with passion and with heart,” Ezell said. “Those are the kind of kids that are enjoyable to coach. They’re the kind of kids that are enjoyable to watch and they’re the kind of kids we’re going to keep bringing here to ETSU.”
Hotchkins added 10 points for ETSU.
Cara Bowling, ETSU’s leading scorer, returned after missing six games with a hip injury, and scored four points on 1-for-6 shooting. Tiana Burley also came back from missing time after being diagnosed with a form of anemia and saw limited action.
Stetson was led by Myeisha Hall and Amber Porter, who each scored 17 points. Hall came into the game with six 3-pointers all season and went 4 for 8 from 3-point range. Jama Sharp had 16 points.
Ezell was called for a technical foul in the second half of what had become a physical game. She said it was her first technical in four years.
“My job is to protect them,” Ezell said. “My job is to teach them. My job is to fight for them. Sometimes you just have to let it be known that it’s not OK to treat our kids that way. I didn’t feel like we were being picked on. I just didn’t feel like the game was being consistently called. We’ll just leave it at that.”
The Bucs get a week off before returning to action Feb. 15 at USC Upstate. Five of their final seven regular-season games are on the road.