Northern Kentucky spoiled the East Tennessee State women’s basketball team’s Christmas break with a 57-45 upset win on Friday afternoon at Brooks Gym.
The Lady Norse limited the Bucs to just four fourth-quarter points in earning only their second win of the season. Counting the last part of the third quarter, ETSU had a scoreless stretch of seven minutes and 29 seconds — and went just 2 of 15 (13.3 percent) from the field in the fourth quarter.
“It’s the most embarrassed I’ve been. We had a lack of focus, a lack of respect for our opponent and they outplayed us,” ETSU coach Brittney Ezell said. “This is what happens when you don’t treat every game like it’s N.C. State, Michigan State or Tennessee. You worry about a game like this going into Christmas break. It can go one of two ways; they can be excited or they can be already checked out. I felt like we were checked out. When you score four points in the fourth quarter, you’re not going to win.”
Ezell pointed out the Bucs scored only 14 baskets total in a game which they shot just 26.4 percent overall.
Northern Kentucky (2-9) won the rebounding battle 43-30 with Kailey Coffey grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds. Samair Mowbray led the Norse in scoring with 19 points as Molly Glick, with 11, and Jazmyne Geist, 10, also reached double figures.
For the Bucs (6-8), Britney Snowden had 12 and Tianna Tarter finished with 11, while no other ETSU player scored more than six.
It wasn’t just late when ETSU struggled. The Bucs were lethargic throughout much of the early going, scoring just 13 points in the first 13 minutes of the game. But Tarter spurred a strong finish to the half and ETSU led 28-17 at the break.
They pushed the lead to 32-17 on jumpers by Malloree Schurr and Erica Haynes-Overton, only to see the Norse come back and trail by only a point less than five minutes later.
“Our kids just took it for granted,” Ezell said. “We get a 15-point lead and we just let it evaporate. It’s one thing when coaches try to bail you out with timeouts, but it’s another thing when you’re repeatedly doing the same thing. We kept doing the same thing no matter what we drew up. That makes it difficult to coach; makes it difficult to play. If you don’t have your mind and spirit right, physically you’re not going to be able to do it.”
Ezell gave Northern Kentucky coach Camryn Whitaker credit for staying with a zone defense throughout the game. However, she was aggravated with the way her team passed the ball around the perimeter instead of going on the attack.
“Their zone gave us trouble, but we acted like we were disinterested,” Ezell said. “The result is what it is. There are a lot of things to think about before Christmas. We’ll be back on the 26th and 27th and I will try to get a lot of things remedied before we play again on the 29th (against North Greenville).”