Destiny Mitchell says she’s feeling more like her old self on the basketball court, and that’s very good news for the East Tennessee State women.
Mitchell collected 21 points and 15 rebounds Saturday as the Lady Bucs rolled past Carson-Newman in their first exhibition of the preseason. The junior forward made 10 of 18 shots and even dished out five assists.
“I love where my game is right now,” said Mitchell, “and I definitely like this team. It’s a different kind of team, more of a running team. It suits my game, and I feel like I’m more of a leader this year.”
Mitchell was a second-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference player her first two years. But she suffered a knee injury late in her freshman season and was never quite the same player a year ago, though she still averaged 12.2 points and 8.9 rebounds.
Coach Karen Kemp says Saturday’s game confirmed what she’s been thinking in recent practices.
“Destiny is finally back where she was before the injury,” she said.
While this may be a more up-tempo ETSU team, it also has some size. There are five players who stand 6-2 or taller.
One of the new faces is Serena Clark, a 6-2 transfer from Clemson who sat out last season. She made her ETSU debut with 16 points and nine rebounds Saturday.
“I was excited at first, because it’s been awhile,” said Clark. “I was kind of shaky out there but did some positive things. I just need to be a little more aggressive on the boards.”
The Lady Bucs had way too much firepower for Carson-Newman, a Division II program that had already been pasted in exhibitions at North Carolina (106-29) and Tennessee (104-44).
The Lady Eagles managed just 4-for-25 shooting in the first half and trailed 35-15. The second half was a little more competitive, but not much.
ETSU finished with 47 percent shooting and controlled the boards 55-39.
The game was ragged throughout, with each team committing 28 turnovers. Kemp also found some other things to improve on before the final exhibition Monday night against Young Harris.
“Offensively we need better spacing,” she said. “We need to be moving more, we need better communication. And we need to be boxing out better.”
Brianna McQueen, the Lady Bucs’ 5-3 freshman, stood tall in her debut with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists. Another freshman, 6-2 Jasmine Kemp, had five steals and blocked three shots.
Sophomore Maria Bond chipped in with 10 points.
Tatum Burstrom, with 14 points, was the only scorer in double figures for Carson-Newman.