The East Tennessee State women’s basketball team will be without its leading scorer and rebounder at LSU.
Junior forward Destiny Mitchell suffered a concussion in practice Sunday and will not be medically cleared before Thursday night’s game in Baton Rouge, La. Mitchell is averaging 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds for the Lady Bucs, who are off to a 2-2 start.
“I’ve told them that some others are just going to have to step up and show what they’re capable of,” coach Karen Kemp said Tuesday. “We’re going to miss Destiny, but we’ve got to take everything as a positive right now. This is an opportunity for someone else.”
The Lady Bucs have played just four games the first month of the season. Their last outing was a ragged 57-53 victory at Morehead State on Dec. 2; previously they defeated Memphis 83-73 in their only home game to date.
Kemp said the light schedule early was mostly by design.
“With this group — a lot of new players, a freshman point guard —` we’re still learning about each other and need as much practice time as we can get,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement in the last four or five days.
“We’re young and maturing, and hopefully by the time the A-Sun hits in January we’ll be a very competitive basketball team.”
Mitchell’s injury not withstanding, the Lady Bucs have a glimmer of hope at LSU. They did everything but beat the Lady Tigers last season in the Dome, falling 71-68 in overtime.
ETSU led by nine at the half and was still in position to win at the end of regulation and overtime. LSU scored the last six points of the game to escape.
“All our returnees feel like we should have beaten them last year,” said Kemp. “We feel really confident going into this game.”
The Lady Tigers, coached by former Tennessee standout Nikki Caldwell, are 4-3 this season, with losses to Hampton, No. 25 Georgetown and Tulane. They were picked seventh in the Southeastern Conference preseason poll.