JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 3, 2011) – Exhibition games are meant to shake the rust off after a long off-season and it showed Thursday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
Fortunately, for the ETSU women's basketball team, the Lady Bucs managed to shake just enough off and escaped with a 62-49 win over Carson-Newman in their exhibition opener. Carson-Newman trailed by four in the final minutes before ETSU was able to put the game away.
Two Lady Bucs registered double-doubles, while senior Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.) led all scorers with 21 points despite battling flu-like symptoms. Junior Tosha Austin (Chattanooga, Tenn.) finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds and sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) added 12 points and 13 rebounds in the winning effort.
ETSU, who shot 21.4 percent (9-42) in the first half, managed to hit a few more shots in the second to pull away from the stingy Carson-Newman squad. Overall, the Lady Bucs shot 34.3 percent for the game (21-77), but it was stellar free throw shooting which proved to be the difference maker in the preseason opener. Pickwell knocked down 11 of her 12 attempts, while ETSU as team finished 17-of-18. The Eagles finished 8-for-11 at the charity stripe.
The first half wasn't for the offensive minded as both teams combined for 18 makes on 66 shot attempts; however, the Lady Bucs managed to lead, 24-18, at the break.
The Lady Bucs led 8-2 early on after Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) found fellow freshman Brianna Bogard (Georgetown, Texas) open for a jumper at the 13:22 mark, but from there everything went cold for the Blue and Gold. Carson-Newman capitalized on ETSU's shooting woes as the Eagles took their first lead of the game when Chante Markus put the visitors up 12-11 with 5:24 remaining in the half. Both teams traded buckets on the following trips down the floor, but with the Eagles up one (14-13), ETSU finished the final four minutes, thirty-two seconds on a 10-5 run to take a six-point lead into the locker room.
After opening the first 14 minutes, 21 seconds shooting 4-for-31, the Lady Bucs finished the rest of the first stanza going 5-of-11, while Carson-Newman was 9-of-34 (37.5 percent) for the half. ETSU held a healthy margin in rebounding, 30 to 18, but 16 Lady Buccaneer offensive rebounds only resulted in six points. Pickwell led all players at the break with seven points, while Austin added six points and 10 rebounds for ETSU.
Just like the first half, ETSU managed to open up on a brief spark to begin the final 20 minutes of the game as the Blue and Gold pushed their six-point halftime lead to 11, 34-23, when Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) connected on one of her two field goal makes with exactly 17 minutes remaining in the contest. However, Carson-Newman – who already had a game under its belt – kept the margin under ten points and pulled within four, 47-43, at the 8:23 mark.
From there, a pair of Pickwell free throws extended the Lady Buccaneer lead to ten (53-43) with 5:24 to play, but the Eagles wouldn't back down. Rechelle Dye made one of her two free throw attempts to make it a 53-48 game, but ETSU held Carson-Newman to one point in the final four minutes, sixteen seconds to come away with the 13-point win.
Both teams scored 28 points in the paint, but ETSU won the rebounding battle, 58 to 39, while turning 30 offensive rebounds into 18 second-chance points. Carson-Newman finished 19-of-59 from the field (32.2 percent) and turned the ball over 30 times. Unfortunately, the Lady Bucs weren't much better with keeping their turnovers down as the Eagles forced ETSU to cough the ball up 24 times.
The Lady Eagles face the University of North Carolina on Wednesday in Chapel Hill, N.C. in their final exhibition.