As for the first half, it was a different story altogether.
The Buccaneers scored a season-low 11 points in the first half, creating an 18-point deficit that was too much to overcome in a 65-45 loss to UNC-Greensboro in women’s college basketball Saturday afternoon at Brooks Gym.
“The second half was better, but it goes back to being able to put things together and consistency,” said ETSU head coach Brittney Ezell. “It’s a tough way to learn a lesson. There’s no shame in losing to a good team, but did you give your best effort the entire 40 minutes? And the answer is no. We’ve got to figure out why not, and correct it before the next one.”
The Buccaneers (8-16 overall) fell to 3-6 in Southern Conference play. The Spartans (17-7) stayed in the hunt for the title with a league mark of 6-3.
ETSU had its hands full with UNCG’s Nadine Soliman. The 5-foot-10 senior from Egypt riddled the Bucs for 29 points, including 4-of-9 shooting from trey country.
“Greensboro came out and punched us in the mouth,” Ezell said. “They have, in my opinion, the (Southern Conference) player of the year in Soliman. She hit some tough shots that are deflating. And when our kids we normally count on to make shots aren’t making shots, then everybody else kind of presses and it becomes a snowball. And we haven’t developed enough mental toughness to step up and say, enough is enough.”
Soliman got post support from Te’Ja Twitty, who authored a double-double 14 points and 13 rebounds.
ETSU scored with 4:24 remaining in the first quarter to cut UNCG’s lead to 12-7. The Bucs didn’t score again until 1:48 remaining before halftime — a brutal stretch of 12 minutes and 36 seconds without a single point.
The Spartans lead was 24-8 after Kaia Upton’s free throw broke the scoreless stretch. And they added five more points before Micah Scheetz banked in a 28-foot 3-pointer right before the halftime buzzer.
ETSU was just 4 of 22 from the field in the first half.
Turnovers were part of the story. The Bucs totaled 20 of them despite only five steals by UNCG.
ETSU resembled its normal level of play after halftime, but the Spartans maintained their pace. They outscored ETSU 20-19 in the third quarter to take a 49-30 lead into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, ETSU cut the deficit to 13 points on a shot in the lane by Amaya Adams with 3:47 left. UNCG’s Cece Crudup made a jumper on the next possession for a 60-45 advantage and ETSU didn’t threaten again.
The second half was basically a draw as the Spartans outscored the Bucs, 36-34.
“I think we have been wildly inconsistent all year,” Ezell said. “I kind of expected a little lull from Thursday (against Western Carolina). We were so good. We haven’t figured out quite yet how to sustain that level of excellence. I tell them all the time, the only thing consistent about them is their inconsistency. And until they become consistent, it’s difficult to take them seriously.”
E’Lease Stafford, coming off a 29-point effort against Western Carolina, had another good outing. She finished with 18 points and nine rebounds while also blocking three shots.
Scheetz finished with nine points, ending a streak of 22 straight games in double-figure scoring. Adams also totaled nine points.
ETSU begins a two-game road trip Thursday when it takes on Wofford. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.