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ETSU women claim SoCon Opener against WCU

Gene Renfro • Updated Jan 4, 2018 at 10:25 PM

The Southern Conference women’s basketball slate opened Thursday night. East Tennessee State University certainly made a fine first impression, never trailing in a 66-50 win over Western Carolina inside Brooks Gym.

“You’re pleased. Half of the conference is 1-0 and half of the conference is 0-1, and you’re happy to be on the positive side,” ETSU head coach Brittney Ezell said. “I thought we did some really good things in transition. I’m really happy to be 1-0 and moving onto Saturday.”

Tarter reaches century mark

Senior Tianna Tarter played in her 100th game as a Buccaneer and made it noteworthy. She paced everyone with 22 points behind a 10-for-10 effort at the foul line. That performance at the charity stripe gave her a share of the school’s free-throw percentage record (1.000 percent) on at least 10 attempts. She joined four other players at the top of that list.

The 10 makes also moved her to No. 3 on the school’s list of made free throws. Tarter now has 373 makes to slip past Siarre Evans and Tara Davis. Next up is DeShawne Blocker with 405 and atop is Marsha Cowart at 421.

Strong start set tone

The Bucs jumped in front 17-4 as Western Carolina went over six minutes between baskets. ETSU was 8 for 19 from the field in the opening 10 minutes as the home side led 19-11 after the quarter.

The score was tied at 30 apiece with 1:50 left in the first half before ETSU got four free throws from Tarter in the last moments to enjoy a 34-30 edge. The Bucs did not look back in the second half.

Turnovers benefit Bucs

ETSU forced 32 WCU turnovers, which is a season high for the squad. The Bucs collected 30 turnovers at Winthrop last month. Those turnovers Thursday led to 29 points and helped for 12 fast-break points.

“Our press has a gradual effect and it wears people down,” Ezell said about the Bucs’ defense. “You start seeing people not want the basketball so we have to continue to work on it and horn it to make sure it is something we can count on for 40 minutes instead of a flash-in-the-pan kind of stuff.”

Freshman helps create havoc

Part of the 32 turnovers can be attributed to freshman Erica Haynes-Overton. She collected seven steals to give her 68 on the season. Haynes-Overton has recorded at least one steal in all 16 games this season. She also poured in 14 points, right at her season average of 13.7 after the contest.

WCU uses hot hand off bench

The Catamounts saw Tess Harris come off the bench for a spark. The sophomore knocked down four 3-pointers for a team-high 12 points. Tembre Moates scored 10.

Next up

ETSU will take a 1-0 league record and 8-8 overall mark into Saturday’s matchup with visiting University of North Carolina Greensboro. The Bucs have now won three of their last five Southern Conference openers. UNCG was a 49-42 loser against Tennessee Chattanooga Thursday.

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