From there, however, the Bucs held off Cincinnati no more and lost their women’s basketball season opener 77-64 on Friday night at Fifth Third Arena.
The Bucs led most of the opening half and were up 50-49 late in the third quarter before the Lady Bearcats outscored them 28-14 the rest of the way in a battle of teams that reached last season’s WNIT.
Cincinnati, which is a member of the American Athletic Conference and won 19 games a year ago, improved to 2-0 and avenged a loss to the Bucs from the 2017-18 season opener.
The Bucs were topped by sophomore guard Erica Haynes-Overton, who tossed in 17 points, and Raven Dean with 14 points and six assists.
Making her debut in an ETSU uniform after sitting out last season following her transfer from UAB, sophomore guard Micah Scheetz finished with 12 points and four assists. She also shot 60 percent from 3-point range (3-of-5).
ETSU struggled to stop Cincinnati senior guard Nikira Goings, who finished with a game-high 24 points and was 5 of 11 from 3-point range.
The Bucs shot a solid 49 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point territory, besting Cincinnati’s marks of 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc.
Cincy, though, outscored the Blue & Gold 12-4 from the free-throw line. Moreover, the Bearcats out-rebounded the Bucs 38-30 — holding a 16-3 advantage on the offensive glass — and totaled 31 bench points to ETSU’s 10.
Haynes-Overton converted all three of her 3-pointers in the first quarter, which ended with the Bucs on top 22-16.
Genesis Parker nailed a three at the halftime buzzer for the Bearcats, making it a 34-34 contest.
Down 61-53 in the fourth, ETSU put together a 7-0 spurt to claw back within a point — but Cincy countered with a 9-0 run to take final control.
Antoinette Miller had 12 points, four assists and four steals for the Bearcats.
The Bucs will play Michigan State on Sunday in East Lansing. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.