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ETSU women win tough battle against Furman

Douglas Fritz • Jan 17, 2019 at 12:38 AM

JOHNSON CITY — After a pair of runs to start the game, ETSU and Furman settled in for a hard-fought back-and-forth battle.

And it was the Buccaneers who had more in the gas tank.

In a women’s college basketball game Wednesday night at Brooks Gym, ETSU got a terrific performance from guard Micah Sheetz and earned a difficult 75-70 Southern Conference victory.

It was a much-needed win for the Bucs, who improved to 3-15 overall and 1-1 in league play.

“I’m happy for the kids because they need it,” said ETSU head coach Brittney Ezell. “It hasn’t been from lack of effort. It hasn’t been from lack of being in the gym. They’ve taken a beating — physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s hard. But man are they tough.”

Furman, which entered the contest in a first-place tie with Wofford, fell to 2-1 in the conference and 10-8 overall.

THE FINISH

Trailing by six points, Furman got a 3-pointer from Le’Jzae Davidson to make it 71-68 with 55 seconds left. The Paladins had two 3-point shots to tie as the clock wound under 20 seconds, but had to settle for a layup by Kaitlyn Duncan with 3.1 remaining.

ETSU’s Kaia Upton made one of two free throws with 1.5 seconds to make it 72-70. Erica Haynes-Overton stole the in-bounds pass and drilled a trey for the final margin.

STAT SHEETZ

It wasn’t just the team-high 18 points for Sheetz, but the timing of some of her baskets. She made a clutch 3-pointer to put ETSU ahead 62-61 midway through the fourth quarter to steal Furman’s momentum. And with 3:02 remaining, she hit a three to give the Bucs a 71-65 advantage.

“I just try to keep my head and stayed poised the whole game,” said Sheetz. “I felt open and I took (the shots). I just took what the defense gave me.”

Ezell said the Bucs want the ball in Sheetz’s hands at the end of games.

“She’s very gusty and very tough,” said Ezell. “She’s got a little of Tianna (Tarter) in her, without the explosiveness. She has that court savvy.”

Haynes-Overton added 15 points while Britney Snowden totaled 13. Raven Dean chipped in with 12.

QUICK START, QUICK ANSWER

It was a 15-2 start for the Bucs, who couldn’t miss from the field. A cold snap followed, and Furman answered ETSU’s punch with a 16-2 run of its own. It was tight the rest of the game.

The Bucs played most of the first half without Haynes-Overton, who was saddled with foul trouble. But with seven players scoring at least four points, the Bucs carried a 39-35 lead into the locker room.

PAINT PAIN

ETSU had all kinds of trouble stopping Furman’s Celena Taborn. The post player made 10 of 11 shots from the field and finished with 22 points.

The key for the Bucs was stopping everything else — including Davidson, the Paladins’ leading scorer. She went 3 of 18 from the field and finished with 14 points.

“We tried to get really aggressive with denying the passing lanes and clamping down on the ball handlers,” said Ezell. “I was thrilled with it. I thought our defense was really good.”

Jarya Outten added 11 points while Duncan totaled 10. Tierra Hodges contributed 14 rebounds.

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