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Second-half surge lifts Wofford over ETSU women

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Mar 7, 2019 at 8:01 PM

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — After sprinting out to a fast start, the East Tennessee State women's basketball team stumbled at the finish of its Southern Conference women's tournament quarterfinal against Wofford.

The Bucs lost 75-66 to the Terriers on Thursday after being outscored by 15 points in the second half. It ended ETSU's season at 10-21, a team high for defeats since the 2013-14 season. The Bucs were undone in large part by 23 turnovers.

"They did what they needed to win the ball game," ETSU coach Brittney Ezell said. "They forced us into turnovers and hit big shots. We got 17 offensive rebounds, 48 rebounds overall and we shot the ball well from 3(-point range). A bug-a-boo for us has been free-throw shooting and unforced turnovers. Just because Wofford played well, it doesn't mean that we were bad."

The Terriers (16-14), will face top-seed Mercer (23-7), a 55-32 winner over Western Carolina in the tournament's opening game, in Friday's semifinal round at 11 a.m.

Micah Scheetz went 8-of-13 from the field and finished with 23 points to lead ETSU. Erica Haynes-Overton, named an All-Southern Conference first-team selection earlier in the week, finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Britney Snowden added 13 points and eight rebounds.

"We had a lot of adversity this season playing one of the hardest schedules in NCAA basketball," Scheetz said. "Everybody has been through injuries and other things, but I'm glad of how my teammates and coaches were sticking with me. This season wasn't easy — up and down — but I'm really proud of them."

Snowden added: "Coach E prepared us well for this moment. This season has been rocky — up and down — but these girls I would take to battle every day. I wouldn't change them for anything."

Da'Ja Green had 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds to lead Wofford, which earned its first tournament win since 2012. Chloe Wanink netted 16 points as Cairo Booker, with 11, and Jamari McDavid, 10, also provided double-digit performances.

"We just did a much better job of taking care of their defensive switches in the second half," Wofford coach Jimmy Garrity said. "The players we have in that locker room are good teammates. We were confident in our abilities to guard the ball and on the offensive end, too."

ETSU, led by Raven Dean with nine rebounds, held a 48-42 rebounding advantage, including 17-12 on the offensive glass. The Bucs outscored the Terriers 28-22 in the paint, but were outscored 31-20 off turnovers.

FIRST-HALF HIGHLIGHTS

Scheetz and Haynes-Overton made 3-point goals as the Bucs opened up a 12-2 lead over the game's first five minutes. Scheetz had nine first-quarter points as the ETSU led 22-10 at the end of one quarter.

With less-than-desirable shot selections in the second quarter, the Bucs went on a nearly five-minute drought before Scheetz knocked down a short bank shot. ETSU led 31-25 at halftime.

THIRD-QUARTER STRUGGLES

Wofford controlled the third quarter, quickly rallying to tie the game at 31 before Scheetz knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Bucs ahead. The Terriers scored the final seven points of the quarter as part of a 9-0 run to lead 51-41 early in the fourth quarter.

"In the first quarter, we had a concerted defensive effort," Ezell said. "In the second quarter, we got away from that and were more focused about, 'Let me get my shot.' Our lead went away and Wofford built momentum from the second quarter through the fourth. We got flat in the second half and never recovered until it was too late."

SEASON PERSPECTIVE

It wasn't the season that ETSU expected after being picked as co-favorite with Mercer in the Southern Conference preseason poll. Still, Ezell talked about the never-give-up attitude of the team that suffered some key injuries, notably junior point guard Jada Craig, the projected starter who played in just seven games.

"I'm really proud of the fight our team has shown throughout the season. You wouldn't believe all they've had to endure," Ezell said. "It's amazing and I told them before the game they would always have my adoration. I'm proud of their fight, who they are and how they've represented our university."

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