ETSU women hoping defense rules in SoCon tourney

Joe Avento • Updated Feb 28, 2018 at 2:26 PM

The postseason is about to begin for the East Tennessee State women’s basketball team, and the Bucs are hoping to steal a championship.

ETSU enters the Southern Conference tournament at U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina, seeded second in the eight-team field.

Up first is a quarterfinal matchup against Wofford, set for Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

The Bucs enter the tournament with an 18-11 record, and defense has been one of the big reasons for their success. They lead the SoCon with 332 steals, ranking 10th nationally.

Freshman guard Erica Haynes-Overton is fourth in the country at 3.92 steals per game. She was chosen as the SoCon’s defensive player of the year as well as the league’s freshman of the year.

Tianna Tarter averages 17.9 points per game to lead the Bucs, who swept Wofford (10-18) during the regular season. Tarter was a first-team all-conference selection.

The last time Tarter played in Asheville, she scored 39 points in a season-ending loss to Samford in last year’s SoCon quarterfinals. She had 31 in the second half in one of the most spectacular performances in tournament history.

ETSU is 22-3 all-time against the Terriers, who are seeded seventh in the field.

The winner advances to the semifinals, where it will take on the winner the Chattanooga-UNC Greensboro game Friday at 1:15 p.m.

Mercer (27-2) is the prohibitive favorite, having won 24 games in a row, sweeping the SoCon regular season and being ranked 25th in the latest Associated Press poll.

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