DeLAND, Fla. — East Tennessee State center Tiana Burley produced one of her best games of the season Saturday at Stetson. Her team couldn’t follow her lead.
Burley collected 20 points and 12 rebounds, but the Lady Bucs fell to the second-place team in the Atlantic Sun Conference 74-65 in the Edmunds Center.
It was a 44-24 game at half, and ETSU never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
“Every time teams go on runs against us, we drop our heads and basically quit,” said Burley. “We have to find a way to fight back.”
The Lady Bucs (6-13, 4-8) actually made a short-lived rally in the second half, pulling within 10 at 59-49 after a layup by Burley with 7:20 to play.
The Lady Hatters (17-6, 10-2) collected themselves and raced away again to get the season sweep.They won the earlier game in Johnson City 71-55.
“We started this game OK, but they were on fire,” said ETSU coach Karen Kemp. “And I felt like we stopped playing defense and communicating late in the first half.”
The Lady Bucs now face an even tougher challenge Monday night when they play at Florida Gulf Coast. The Lady Eagles are working on back-to-back unbeaten seasons in the league. They demolished ETSU 97-60 on its home court a month ago.
“The women down there pack that place out. It’s a really tough place to play,” said Kemp. “You have to play 40 minutes of tough basketball. We need to have the intensity we showed late in this game from the start.”
Whether the Lady Bucs will have Destiny Mitchell remains to be seen.
The all-conference forward has been hobbled by a knee injury she suffered three games ago. She sat out the last game but was in the starting lineup Saturday.
Mitchell wasn’t much of a factor, with eight points and six rebounds in 26 minutes. She wasn’t even on the floor as the Lady Bucs tried to rally down the stretch.
“She took herself out,” said Kemp. “She’s hurting. You know that because she’s a tough kid. I could tell she was dragging at the beginning of the game.”
Burley, a 6-3 sophomore from Camilla, Ga., tried to fill the void. She was dominant inside inside, making 8 of 15 shots, many on stickbacks. She had seven offensive rebounds.
“She was playing strong like we need her to every game,” said Kemp. “I hope it was just not because her family was here.”
The Clemson transfer had been averaging 8.1 points and 5.0 rebounds in just 15.4 minutes of action. She admits she has plenty of room to improve, particularly in the fitness area.
“I can do much better,” said Burley. “I gotta get in the weight room and get stronger. I gotta be in better shape.”
Cara Bowling, with 10 points, was the only other ETSU player in double figures.
Stetson was led by Sasha Sims with 20 points, and she had plenty of help. Shanasa Sanders scored 17 points, Cherisse Burris 15 and Victoria McGowan 14.
The Lady Hatters flourished at the foul line, hitting 21 of 26 while the Lady Bucs were 8 of 11. They also committed 10 turnovers — seven fewer than ETSU.