The East Tennessee State women’s basketball team brought a smile to their head coach’s face with a convincing 86-64 victory over Lipscomb on Saturday afternoon at the MSHA Center.
The Lady Bucs, who improved to 6-11 overall and 4-6 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, have won 13 straight in the series and now hold a 16-1 all-time series lead. The Lady Bisons fell to 2-18 overall and 1-9 in league play.
“I can smile after this one,” ETSU head coach Karen Kemp said. “I think the work we’ve put in the last few months is starting to pay off. I felt defensively that might have been one of our best showings.
“They’ve got a positive attitude and come into practice every day ready to work hard. You’re seeing the results of their hard work.”
The Lady Bucs certainly left nothing to chance.
ETSU scored the first 15 points of the game and raced out to a 31-6 advantage less than 12 minutes in. Although Lipscomb closed the margin, the Lady Bucs held a 45-28 lead at the half.
In the second half, ETSU quickly pushed the lead back to 25 and held double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
It was the first time ETSU won back-to-back games since Dec. 2, and the first time at home other than a pair of exhibition contests to open the season.
Destiny Mitchell led the way with 16 points on the offensive end and seven steals on the defensive end in just 18 minutes.
“I let my defense dictate my offense,” Mitchell said. “I came out and played tough defense and the offense came through.”
Three other Lady Bucs hit double figures.
Cara Bowling had 13 points and seven rebounds, while Serena Clark and Brianna McQueen each finished with 10 points.
“I didn’t even realize I had seven rebounds, but we played more as a team with more intensity on the defensive end,” said Bowling, a former Elizabethton High standout. “That translated to the offense. We try not to let our offense do what we do on defense. Once we get going on the defensive end, it translates to the offensive end.”
The Lady Bucs had 10 more assists and 11 more steals than the Lady Bisons, and crashed the boards for a 50-32 rebounding advantage. They also scored 29 points off turnovers to just 14 for Lipscomb.
“We missed some shots, but we stayed with those misses and continued to fight and stay on the boards,” Kemp said. “I’m extremely proud of the way they fought, I’m going to say 40 minutes. It may not have been 40 minutes, but it was extremely close.”
Hannah Phillips scored 18 of Lipscomb’s first 30 points. She didn’t score again, but still led the Lady Bisons in scoring.
For a second straight game, ETSU dominated action in the paint. They held a 36-16 scoring advantage in the paint and outscored Lipscomb 17-2 on second-chance points.
“That’s what our strength is,” Kemp said. “But, we have to have the inside-outside game as well. I thought Cara Bowling really stepped up big for us. We had Destiny and Tosha (Austin) who were playing well not to return to the game. But, we had other people like Jasmine Kemp play extremely well. We need that the rest of the year.”
Now the owners of a two-game winning streak, the Lady Bucs didn’t take the time to savor their latest victory. They were looking ahead to Monday when host Northern Kentucky, a team which beat them 68-55 earlier this season.
“It’s definitely good to come away with a mini win streak,” Bowling said. “But we don’t have time to enjoy it. We have another game Monday where we have to get focused on. We shouldn’t have lost to them up there.”