After losses to the three teams competing for the Atlantic Sun women’s basketball crown, East Tennessee State finally faced an opponent below them in the league standings.
Tiana Burley scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds and the Lady Bucs ended a four-game skid with a 69-65 win over Kennesaw State on Monday night at the Minidome.
“Our team did not give up and fought extremely hard which put us in the position to get the win tonight,” ETSU head coach Karen Kemp said.
The win moved ETSU ahead of Jacksonville in the A-Sun standings. The Bucs are seventh at 5-10 and 7-15 overall. Kennesaw fell to ninth at 3-11 and 7-19.
ETSU scored 18 ponts off of 17 KSU turnovers, and outscored the Owls in the paint 42-16. The Lady Bucs only turned the ball over five times.
The Bucs still had to fight for the win, rallying from an early deficit. Kennesaw held ETSU scoreless over a four-minute stretch in the first half to take a 27-11 lead with nine minutes before the break.
Burley scored six of ETSU’s next seven points to get the Bucs back in it. ETSU outscored the Owls 17-4 over a four-minute streatch to pull within three points at 31-28 with three minutes left. The teams traded baskets for the rest of the half and ETSU went into the locker room trailing 36-33.
“We go down by 16 and they could have hung their heads and gave up, but they did not,” Kemp said. “They continued to work hard and put us in a good position at halftime.”
Neither team could pull away as the second half opened. ETSU took its first lead since the opening minute of the game, 44-43, on a jumper by Cara Bowling with 14 minutes left.
The score remained within three points over the next seven minutes. Shawn Randall’s shot with just over seven minutes left put ETSU ahead for good at 54-52. Randall scored seven of ETSU’s last 15 points as the Bucs outscored Kennesaw 15-13 in the final minutes for the win.
ETSU’s leading scorer and rebounder Destiny Mitchell, who has lingering issues from a previous knee injury, played 19 minutes on Monday. She scored four points in the closing minutes, finishing with seven points and four rebounds.
Randall ended the game with 10 points, while Serena Clark added nine points and nine rebounds.
Kennesaw was led by Nicole Adams, who went 6-for-7 from 3-point range to score 23 points. Ashley Holliday added 16 points and six assists, but committed 12 turnovers. Sametria Gideon had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
ETSU begins its final road trip of the regular season at Jacksonville on Saturday at 1 p.m. before going to North Florida for a 7 p.m. game on Monday.